September 2, 2021

Texas Abortion Law

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“The U.S. Supreme Court refused on Wednesday to block a Texas ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy… In an unsigned explanation, the court’s majority said the decision was ‘not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law’ and allowed legal challenges to proceed.” Reuters

“The law at the center of the Texas case, known as S.B. 8, prohibits doctors from performing abortions if they can detect a fetal heartbeat, including the kind of cardiac activity that normally occurs at roughly the sixth week of pregnancy. In a twist intended to make the law harder to challenge in court, the law does not rely on state officials to enforce the ban. Instead, the law tasks private individuals with bringing lawsuits against anyone who provides or ‘aids or abets’ an abortion.” SCOTUSblog

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From the Left

The left is critical of the ruling, arguing that the law is clearly unconstitutional under current precedent and surviving only due to legal trickery.

"You probably didn’t know this when you went to sleep last night, but you’ve woken up in a world in which 12 million women do not have the right to control their own bodies — at a time when the average embryo is the size of a grain of rice…

“In court filings, no one argued that S.B. 8 is constitutional — the state of Texas is quite aware that it isn’t, at least for now. Texas only argued that it’s unreviewable. So, on the one hand, women have a right to control their own bodies, but on the other, states can at least temporarily take that right away, cause clinics to shutter, and threaten women with harassment and lawsuits. Is this even a constitutional right anymore? Or are we already living in the dystopian future that we’ve feared would come to pass?”
Jay Michaelson, New York Magazine

“The Texas law is really … creative. It puts enforcement in the hands of private citizens, who can sue abortion providers and those involved in ‘aiding and abetting’ abortions. This could include anyone from the staff at Planned Parenthood to an Uber driver who provided a ride to the abortion clinic. The penalty, if an aider or abettor loses, is $10,000. I believe I speak for many Americans of all political persuasions when I say: Leave the Uber driver out of it…

“The vast majority of women who obtain abortions in Texas are past that new six-week deadline. And from now on, they have three choices: continue an unwanted pregnancy, get out of their very large state or go somewhere illegal and very possibly dangerous. The best option, of course, is to avoid the pregnancy entirely. How many of you would be shocked to hear that many Texas schools are terrible at sex education?”
Gail Collins, New York Times

"The rationale behind the law is clearly to flood abortion providers with legal challenges brought by individuals such that it would make it prohibitively costly to defend against the frivolous suits, while opening up the clinics to damages… what has happened is exactly what Republican legislators in Texas surely wanted: an effective game of chicken where abortion providers will have to continue on providing services, contravening the law, and risk getting sued in order to challenge the law’s legitimacy in federal court."
Elliot Hannon, Slate

"It’s not unusual for states to create causes of action so that citizens can sue one another. But it’s striking to see that power weaponized for culture-war fodder. Imagine if a state legislature allowed vaccinated people to sue their unvaccinated neighbors and co-workers, or if state legislators authorized drive-by lawsuits against gun stores that sold handguns and certain types of rifles.”
Matt Ford, New Republic

The same politicians who declare that mask requirements are an intolerable intrusion by government into sacrosanct individual freedom, have just imposed the country's most restrictive abortion law since the Supreme Court made abortion legal in the landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade…

“Six weeks into gestation, few women know they are pregnant. At six weeks, a woman is late for just one period. Professionals say 85% to 90% of abortions occur after that point. Some women may seek abortions earlier, perhaps after a rape or incest. The draconian Texas law, unlike most other laws that restrict abortion, also makes it illegal for women to terminate a pregnancy that came as the result of rape or incest. The only exception is for ‘medical emergencies.’”
Frida Ghitis, CNN

From the Right

The right supports the ruling, arguing that the law is consistent with public opinion, which favors more restrictions on abortion than Roe permits.

The right supports the ruling, arguing that the law is consistent with public opinion, which favors more restrictions on abortion than Roe permits.

“Since 1973, when the Court concocted an inalienable right to rid yourself of inconvenient offspring, Gallup has found that the number of Americans who believe abortion should be legal ‘under any circumstance’ has fluctuated between 22–34 percent. This is the stance of the contemporary Democratic Party; legal abortion from conception to crowning…

“The media love to combine the percentage of those who believe abortion should be legal ‘always’ and ‘in some circumstances.’ But why? As of today, Gallup also finds that 67 percent of American believe abortion should be either completely banned (19 percent) or in place with limitations (48 percent). Obviously, the latter can mean an array of things. But the heartbeat bills, like the one in Texas, allow for abortion in ‘in some circumstances.’ As does, obviously, the 20-week ban that House Republicans supported a few years ago…

“In Texas, the heartbeat law certainly isn’t usurping the will of the people, with a [plurality] of the state supporting banning abortions after six weeks — including 46 percent of women — as opposed to 45 percent who want to keep it legal. Of course, the more science learns about the unborn and the earlier technology can keep babies viable outside the womb, the more untenable the pro-choice position will become. If abortion advocates truly believed they would prevail in a ‘democracy,’ they wouldn’t need Roe and they wouldn’t be terrified about the prospects of its demise.”
David Harsanyi, National Review

A majority in a recent CBS poll (54%) want abortion to be more restricted than it currently is. That means they want Roe and Casey to be struck down or replaced with a completely different court precedent. There is majority support for requiring a 24-hour waiting period for abortions (65% to 30%) and for requiring doctors to show the mother an ultrasound of her baby before an abortion (52% to 43%). Laws to that effect would require the overturn of Roe in federal jurisprudence.”
Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

“Do you know what would happen if Roe V Wade were overturned? Each state would decide. Abortion in the United States of America would not suddenly be banned in the 50 states. Each state would decide. And if your state were pro-life, then your state could ban abortion. If your state were pro-abortion, your state could have abortions. Some states like Connecticut have already amended their state constitutions to say abortion is a constitutional right of the state.”
Erick-Woods Erickson, Substack

“For most women in the United States, [birth control] is free… If you're not insured, you can either leverage the increased price transparency of online services, such as GoodRx, or, if you're eligible, receive free contraceptive coverage from Title X-funded services, which remained the same annually from the end of the Obama administration through the Trump administration…

“Even if you refuse the pill, the patch, the shot, the IUD, an over-the-counter condom, or any other pregnancy prophylactic, most pharmacies, and even some delivery apps, sell emergency contraceptives without a prescription. All of this is to say, the U.S. is not Tudor England, where women relied on beeswax and mandrake to avoid decades of permanent pregnancy. It's not even the developing world, where the basic ability to plan prior to conception is either inaccessible or barred by the state. Women in America seeking family planning resources have it better than any of their counterparts on the planet today or in human history.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“All of this is welcome news, of course, for Americans who view abortion as tantamount to murder. But that is not the view that the Supreme Court has taken for half a century. In Roe v. Wade, it held that the Constitution protects a right to abortion, and it has repeatedly affirmed that basic conclusion since 1973. A case that the Court will hear next term, involving a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks (vs. about six weeks under S.B. 8), will give the justices an opportunity to overturn or (more likely) scale back Roe and its progeny. But in the meantime, S.B. 8 is plainly inconsistent with what the Court has said about constitutional limits on abortion regulations.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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