The US Supreme Court has issued its decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, with the five-vote majority ruling Texas' TRAP law
placed unconstitutional burdens on women seeking abortion. It marks the first time the court has imposed limits on state abortion restrictions in more than 15 years and pushes back against a wave of restrictive state laws enacted in recent years.
"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court. "Each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access and each violates the federal Constitution.”
Responses from critics of the decision were predictably disingenuous. Texas governor Greg Abbot contended "the decision erodes states' lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost." However, Amanda Marcotte notes
These regulations included things like requiring abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges, even though most hospitals only give these to clinics that actually admit patients, something abortion clinics don’t do, because abortion is incredibly safe. The law also requires abortion clinics to have a full surgical suite, on par with what a hospital would need. This is particularly ludicrous as abortion is either done with a pill or with a short procedure that involves no cutting and can’t really be understood as surgery.
In her concurring opinion, Justice Ginsburg recognized "Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements."
Vice President of Legal Affairs of Americans United for Life Denise Burke claimed
Today's abortion clinics are the true 'back alleys' of abortion mythology. They consistently operate in the 'red light district' of American mediciane where the problem of substandard abortion providers is longstanding and pervasive. The fight against this public health crisis will continue, despite today's ruling.
The charge that abortion is lethal for women was challenged by one activist almost two years to the day when she explained
If we were to argue, for instance, that abortion should be banned at, say, 20 weeks because late abortions are dangerous to the mother’s health, let’s look at the fact of abortion. You know that a mother’s risk of death by abortion after a particular time—in this instance let’s say 20 weeks pregnant—the risk to the mother’s life rises to .09 [for] every 1,000 abortions. But let’s compare the other risks of a woman’s health. We know, for instance, that if she was to get liposuction that there’s .19 deaths for every 1,000 procedures. If you look for facelifts, it’s .2 per 1,000 procedures. For C-sections, 1.98 per 1,000, versus vaginal deliveries, which are .63 per 1,000
That was Mary Spaulding Baulch (photo from C-Span via Rewire), state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee at the organization's convention in July, 2014. (The NRLC focuses on what it believes is the life of the baby.)
It would be too much to ask for the anti-choice movement to propose elimination of childbirth as a safety measure for women. But when forced-birth advocates prohibiting liposuction and facelifts, I'll be impressed with their sincerity.
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