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“It’s No Big Deal”: Fifth Circuit Seems To Find No “Burden” As “Undue”

A three-judge panel of the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Texas’ new anti-abortion law, a classic of the genre insofar as it uses late-term abortion restrictions to mask a more general effort to shut down abortion clinics via medically dubious “health” requirements.

You can expect conservatives to make hay of the fact that all three judges on the panel are women (one of them the famous conservative judicial activist Edith Jones, who wrote the opinion). But they certainly had no sympathy for the women affected by their action, arguing that it’s no big deal if they have to travel across or beyond Texas to obtain abortion services. MSNBC’s Irin Carmon assesses the damage:

The Supreme Court has held that laws restricting access to abortion can’t put an “undue burden” or have the purpose of putting a “substantial obstacle” in the path of a woman seeking an abortion. But in a decision written by Judge Edith Jones and signed onto by Judges Jennifer Elrod and Catharina Haynes, the Fifth Circuit argued that Texas’s law wasn’t harsh enough to meet that standard. Despite the fact that the admitting privileges requirement has been rejected as medically unnecessary by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Fifth Circuit opinion accepted the state of Texas’s reasoning at face value – that it was intended to protect women’s health, not end access to abortion.

The Fifth Circuit wasn’t impressed at how much harder it has become for Texas women to have abortions, both because clinics whose providers have been rejected for privileges have closed outright and because clinics with doctors that have been able to get privileges are operating at reduced capacity. According to a map by RH Reality Check’s Andrea Grimes, “As of March 6, there are 25 open abortion clinics, six of which are ambulatory surgical centers, in Texas.” There were 36 abortion clinics in Texas at the time the law was passed, meaning that the dire prediction that a third of the clinics would close has come true. When requirements that abortions be provided in ambulatory surgical clinics go into effect in September, that will leave only six clinics, plus another one Planned Parenthood is building in San Antonio.

Since the 7th Circuit reached the opposite conclusion in striking down a similar law in Wisconsin, it’s now almost certain the Supreme Court will have to weigh in, giving Justice Anthony Kennedy a fresh chance to recite his paternalistic approach to women’s health, and the Court’s conservative bloc the best chance they’ve had in years to weaken the “undue burden” standard for abortion restrictions.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, March 28, 2014

 

 

 

March 30, 2014 - Posted by | Abortion, Texas, Women's Health | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. It is important to view conservatives into two groups. One is adamant about scripture driven social issues like abortion and gay marriage. The other is concerned about business, taxes and the economy. Ronald Regan combined these two groups to create the “modern” Republican party. Most independents are economic conservatives although there is a smaller group of those who are pro life but favor welfare state policies. The combination is not working as well as it used to for the republican party because general attitudes about abortion and gay marriage have shifted. For someone like Edith Jones who believes abortion is killing a baby, no burden is undue. I don’t like it, but the battle will not end.

    Like

    Comment by Ron Scubadiver | March 30, 2014 | Reply


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