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Texas Pro-Life Legislation is Back on Trial

Texas Pro-Life Legislation is Back on Trial

Texas’ latest pro-life law is back under legal scrutiny, and those contesting its provisions are ready to redefine the meaning of “undue burden.”

HB 2, the landmark piece of legislation that made Wendy Davis famous, is back on trial.

Today is the second day of arguments for and against abortion providers’ latest challenge to the implementation of a new Texas law that holds abortion clinics to the same standards of care as other medical facilities.

Via the Dallas Morning News:

In a case before U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, the providers said the requirement that all clinics meet high surgical standards is medically unnecessary, costly and unconstitutionally inconvenient for Texas women.

The surgical facilities standards rule is due to go into effect Sept. 1 and is facing its first court challenge in Texas. The other restrictions took effect last year and have been upheld on appeal. The trial is expected to last four days, and appeals are likely no matter how the judge rules.

The requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic already has caused numerous facilities to close. Before the law passed, Texas had 37 abortion facilities, which have been reduced to 20 and could go to six if all aspects of the law are upheld.

Because only six clinics will survive the change in the law, opponents to the law argue that the increased distance between women seeking abortions and the clinics that provide them constitutes an “undue burden” on the right to seek an abortion. The problem with this argument is that a mere inconvenience has never been ruled an undue burden; over the years, courts have upheld several controversial requirements, including

  • Requiring a doctor to give a woman relevant information to make informed consent
  • Requiring 24 hour waiting period
  • Requiring parental consent or notice in order for minors to obtain an abortion (if there is a judicial bypass option)
  • Requiring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians

Additionally, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that “that driving distance alone to get to a clinic never constitutes a substantial obstacle. No matter how far.” When the trial is over, the judge will have to address this idea again, and decide whether or not having to travel long distances to seek an abortion is an undue burden, or just an inconvenient but Constitutional obligation.

It’s important to note here that, even after the law is fully implemented, the majority of women will live within 3 hours of an abortion provider; this has led attorneys for the state to argue that the providers’ challenge to the law is motivated not by ideological rancor, but by increased business costs.

“Receiving optimal care is not an undue burden. It would be safer for patients to drive further to receive an abortion at a surgical facility with a credentialed and privileged physician than to seek an abortion at a nearby, substandard clinic,” the state’s brief said.

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Comments

If they can say I have to wait 15 days to ‘cool off’ before I can buy a handgun, an ACTUAL Constitutional right, then a woman can sure as shit wait 24 hours for an abortion (medical necessity excepted, of course).

Requiring an abortion doctor to actually be licensed seems like common sense to me… who the heck would want a medical prodceure by an UNLICENSED doctor??

    A handful of states don’t require a licensed doctor, they let nurses do it, even performing vacuum/aspiration abortions. I think California was the latest state to go this route.

    Even though I’m not as conservative as some, when it comes to abortion up to 12 weeks (sometimes, for some people, in some circumstances, it really does seem like the “least worst” option, IMO), the idea of lowering the standard of care for the women who choose that route seems like reckless stupidity.

    * Requiring a doctor to give a woman relevant information to make informed consent
    * Requiring 24 hour waiting period
    * Requiring parental consent or notice in order for minors to obtain an abortion(if there is a judicial bypass option)
    * Requiring that abortions be performed only by licensed physicians

    I don’t have a problem with any of those conditions. I can’t see why anyone who purports to care about the welfare of women would. Sometimes, in the interests of safety, some things are less convenient than we’d prefer. When that’s the case we just have to put on our big-girl panties and deal with it.

Someone should take out an ad:

Let us return child sacrifice to the darkest corner of history, and work towards a brighter future with those who choose life

“the majority of women will live within 3 hours of an abortion provider….”

Texas is a BIG state, and three hours is the distance from San Antonio to Houston. It’s about eight hours driving from either city to Dallas. I would surmise that whether the case for “undue burden” can be made would depend upon whether there are multi-service clinics, surgery centers, or hospitals willing to perform abortions.

    The cities are closer together than 8 hours (Dallas to Austin runs about 3, to Houston about 3.5), but Plaintiffs’ attorney is focusing on women in South Texas, where things are more spread out. They’re making the claim that this law could put 1000 miles between a woman and an abortion provider. However, even then, they would still have to overcome the precedent set by the 5thC. Also, courts have said an inconvenience is not an “undue burden,” and it’s a fair and reasonable argument to say that a long drive is an inconvenience–no one is actually preventing you from seeking an abortion.

    Ragspierre in reply to Valerie. | August 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Hell, I knew kids from West Texas who would drive 250 miles on a date. It was not uncommon out there.

I live in Dallas and just drove from there to San Antonio, which is normally a 5 hour drive, in just under four and a half hours using the 85 mph toll road. Houston is almost the same- just about 5 hours, depending on traffic, not eight.

We all just witnessed a care-flight from Liberia to Atlanta to save two American lives. Driving a few hours to end a life is not an undue burden.

Women have exactly the same right to terminate a human life as do men: self-defense. That’s it. Other than a mystical penumbra full of rationalization and deceit, women do not have an extra-legal or extra-moral right to terminate a human life for cause of money, sex, ego, or convenience.

That said, both the mother and father are responsible for the conception of a human life, and its evolution until birth and some years thereafter. The prerequisite for liberty is men and women capable of self-moderating, responsible behavior. And there is no greater responsibility than caring for a human life when it cannot act in it’s own self-defense nor provide for its own welfare.

Make life, not abortion/murder. Devaluing human life has consequences which harms every man, woman, and child.

    n.n in reply to n.n. | August 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Responsibility for a human life during its evolution from conception to birth, and some time thereafter, rests with both the mother and father, irrespective of the circumstances of conception, which includes the test-tube baby social and biological experiment. Dissociation of risk is the opiate of the masses, which must be carefully controlled in order to avoid sponsoring corruption.

    I desperately want to crib “penumbra of rationalization and deceit.”

    gregjgrose in reply to n.n. | August 5, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    >> to terminate a human life for cause of money, sex, ego, or convenience.

    Abolish poverty, starve the poor: The wealthy and powerful in America can simply fall back on pro-choice reasoning. “The poor and weak are inconvenient to us and therefore unwanted by us, and at least we don’t rip them limb from limb or bathe them in acid until they’re dead the way pro-choicers recommend we deal with the inconvenient and unwanted.”

Map Quest shows the drive from San Antonio to Dallas at just over 4 hours via IH-35. I routinely drive from New Braunfels – about 30 miles north of SA- to Plano in five hours, if I avoid rush hour.

There is no Constitutional obligation on a state to provide the wherewithal to exercise any of our rights. Rather, the Constitution forbids the government from prohibiting our exercise of those rights. It seems inconsistent to require plastic surgery clinics to meet these same requirements, but not abortion clinics.

Having an abortion is NOT a right. The word “right” is being constantly attached to whatever new societal “want” is currently in vogue.

Rights are God given, in that MAN cannot take them away. The right to life,liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are God given rights. All other constructs are man made and can be given or taken away by man.

Abortion is not a right, nor is contraception, yet we hear constantly that they are. Gay marriage is a “right”. Having free water deliverd to your home is a “right”. Having medical care for any illness is a “right”. Having a school built and education provided is a “right”. On and on….and our courts for the most part, are completely caught up in the “rights” that don’t exist but that they believe they can mandate.

I’ve never understood the argument that these clinics will close because they can’t meet basic medical standards or relocate within 30 miles of a hospital.

One one hand, they claim that the abortions are no fuss, could easily be done in a strip mall office. On the other, these businesses are too complex to just pick up and move.

Which is it?

Why not simply allow abortions at neighborhood convenience stores, or at the Wal-Mart? Who needs access to medical facilities? Just get the shop vac and a coat hanger, and you ladies will be back cruising the bars in no time…

DavidJackSmith | August 6, 2014 at 7:15 am

Just to get this straight…

Democrats position is that ABORTION is a “healthcare” issue…

Except when it comes to its provision in a properly sanctioned medical facility…

At that point it’s an undue burden to expect the abortion provider to actually be a HEATHCARE facility.

Got it.

the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has previously ruled that “that driving distance alone to get to a clinic never constitutes a substantial obstacle. No matter how far.” When the trial is over, the judge will have to address this idea again, and decide whether or not having to travel long distances to seek an abortion is an undue burden, or just an inconvenient but Constitutional obligation.
_________________

Why will the judge have to address the issue again? The Fifth Circuit has already spoken: “driving distance alone to get to a clinic never constitutes a substantial obstacle. No matter how far.” That is an unequivocal statement. Nothing about driving has changed in the past few years that would make it necessary for the District Court to re-examine this ruling.

There is no reason for the District Court to revisit the issue, unless the judge simply likes getting reversed by the appeals court.

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