Thursday, October 15, 2015

Linda Greenhouse's Persuasive -- and Brave -- Defense of Abortions in Texas

Yale Law School's Linda Greenhouse
I'm no fan of abortion but remain solidly pro-choice, as I've taken to heart the grip reproduction has, over the millennia, exerted on women. They cannot be truly free or in control of their lives if we (men) demand that producing babies takes precedence over all other wishes. It shouldn't; it can't, otherwise society enslaves women by the dumb luck of gender, while we (men) celebrate our dominance. And women are destined to remain a step or two behind -- where too many men want them to begin with.

So I was thrilled to read Linda Greenhouse's dissection of the case soon to be heard at the Supreme Court, one concerning a law Texas passed requiring abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The law has the effect of closing all but about four clinics in the state. Governor Perry, among other politicians, has openly stated that the desired effect was limiting abortions, not protecting the health of the mother, the ostensible rationale for the law.

Unfortunately, a Court of Appeals decision overruled a lower-court judge who had claimed the law placed an undue burden on the mother, saying that they as judges had no right to judge the efficacy of the law's effect on the health of the mother. Huh? (They don't have to judge the validity of the medical basis, only to acknowledge the undue burden, which was clarified in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.)

That seems the nub of the case, and Linda Greenhouse, whom I've always respected in her opinions and coverage of Supreme Court cases, concurs. She finds the Court of Appeals reasoning highly suspect, and predicts that Justice Anthony Kennedy, so often the deciding vote, will find in a similar fashion and void the Texas law. An undue burden is an undue burden, especially if the law makes women seeking an abortion drive not 50 but 500 miles to obtain one.

Her explication of the issues are certainly worth a read. It's going to be a doozy of a case, as Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas all tipped their hands in voting against a stay of the appeals-court decision. Here we go again.

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