Texas’ restrictive abortion laws have been called into question, reaching all the way to the Supreme Court where a final decision could be made that would make-or-break this whole thing.
These new laws requires abortion clinics to have the same standards as a surgical room in an emergency room, with corridors the width of eight feet wide and numerous other standards that seem ridiculous in a clinic that generally administers an abortion pill or a small, non-invasive procedure with less risk than a colonoscopy. The law also requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a hospital 30 miles from the clinic where they perform abortions.
If you need to catch up on exactly what's happening in Texas with the absurd new abortion laws that are making safe abortions next to impossible to access for millions of women, check out John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" segment that points out just what a chaotic mess it all is:
There are a few things you absolutely need to take away from this video.
First, according to a Gallup poll taken in 2015, only 19 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all cases — regardless of rape, incest, age, or health concerns. That means that 81 percent of people believe that abortion should, at the very least, be accessible to women who need them under certain circumstances.
Second, lawmakers claim that these laws were put in place to "protect the health and safety of women," but they effectively make life a living hell for anyone willing to provide this essential service to women. Because these hoops can get so tedious, ridiculous, and impossible to contend with, clinics all over the state are shut down — all while lawmakers shrug their shoulders and continue putting out “provisions” that clinics must abide by in order to keep their doors open.
Lastly, only having a handful of clinics open and available to millions of women in obviously one of the largest states in the country is in clear violation of the “undue burden” that the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision clearly was put in place to stop. Yet lawmakers insist that their laws are there for “health and safety,” and that there is no correlation between the clinics shutting down and their laws being put into effect.
Sound absurd? That’s because it is — and that’s where Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg come in.
While some of the more conservative justices seem adamant that these new laws caused the closures, our three female heroines aren’t about to let that excuse fly during this landmark abortion case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
Justice Elena Kagan, entirely fed up with this blatant disregard of facts and obvious tactics to close these clinics, intervenes by asking Stephanie Toti, “Could I just make sure I understand it, because you said 11 were closed on the day that the admitting privileges requirement took effect; is that correct?”
Toti says that is correct, and Justice Kagan continues, “Is it right that in the two week period that the ASC requirement was in effect, that over a dozen facilities shut their doors, and then when that was stayed, when that was lifted, they reopened again immediately; is that right?”
Toti, again, says that is correct.
“It's almost like the perfect controlled experiment as to the effect of the law, isn't it?” Justice Kagan concludes. “It's like you put the law into effect, 12 clinics closed. You take the law out of effect, they reopen.”
Can anyone say “mic drop?”
In another instance, Justice Sotomayor brings up the “undue burden” that these bills have put on the women of Texas.
“Can I walk through the burden a moment? There’s two types of abortion at play here. The medical abortion, that doesn’t involve any hospital procedure. A doctor prescribes two pills, and the women take the pills at home, correct?”
Toti says, “Under Texas law, she must take them at the facility, but that is otherwise correct.”
“I’m sorry. What?” Justice Sotomayor begins. “She has to come back two separate days to take them?”
“That is correct, yes,” Toti says.
“All right. So now, from when she could take it at home, it’s… Now she has to travel 200 miles or pay for a hotel to get those two days of treatment?”
“That is correct, Your Honor,” Toti says.
“How many other States and how many other recognized medical people have testified or shown that there is any benefit from taking pills at the facility as opposed to taking the pills at home, as was the case?”
“There’s absolutely no testimony… that there is a medical benefit to having a medication abortion at a multimillion-dollar surgical facility,” Toti responds.
After a few more back-and-forth comments from Toti and Justice Sotomayor, Chief Justice Roberts tries to reign in Sotomayor, but she simply isn’t having it. Completely ignoring his requests to wrap up her questions, she continues to smash the conservative agenda, pointedly showing just how ridiculous the abortion laws have become in Texas.
Nothing is decided yet. Although there is a real chance that there will be a 4-4 tie, which would mean that the law would continue to stay in place in Texas, all eyes have landed on Kennedy who could sway the case one way or another.
Despite how many moments were recorded that could have pro-choice advocates jumping for joy, this law could very well stay just the way it is — and that would be a huge loss for the women of Texas.
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