In Court, Texas Says New Abortion Restrictions Needed to "Protect Fetal Life"

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The stakes in the two-day trial over Planned Parenthood's challenge to Texas' new abortion restrictions, which kicked off yesterday in Austin, are rather low. Whatever decision U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel hands down will be appealed to the 5th Circuit, then the Supreme Court, leaving the law in constitutional limbo for months to come.

Yeakel is well aware that his role will be limited.

"This court's job is not to rule on whether women should be allowed abortions," he said but to decide whether the law falls within "existing constitutional confines or whether it does not."

See also: Has Your State Been Sued By Planned Parenthood Yet?

The hearings, though, offer the first chance to for each side to formally lay out its case and craft the arguments upon which the case will ultimately be decided.

Planned Parenthood and its co-plaintiffs, American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights, tread familiar ground, arguing that the law places an unconstitutional burden on women. Two provisions in particular that are set to take effect next Tuesday-- one requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, the other mandating that the abortion-inducing drugs be administered in accordance with strict Food and Drug Administration guidelines developed in the '90s -- would deprive tens of thousands of women to safe, legal abortions.

"I believe that both of these provisions will harm women - - harm Texas women," Dr. Paul Fine, the medical director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston, testified. The rules are "absolutely not" necessary and said they will turn back the clock either two (Houston Chronicle) or three (Bloomberg) decades.

See also: Planned Parenthood Announces Plans to Close Three Texas Clinics, Blames the Legislature

The testimony from lawyers representing the state was only slightly more surprising. Whereas the talking point trotted out during this summer's legislative debate was that the measures were designed to protect women's health, Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell based his argument on the fetus.

"The constitution allows the state to protect fetal life in this manner so long as it does not impose an undue burden," he told the court, adding that the state has an obligation to protect "the life of the unborn" and persuade women to "opt for childbirth," according to The Dallas Morning News.

So long as Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, that's unlikely to pass muster, but when the Supreme Court inevitably tackles one of the abortion-access cases currently wending their way through the federal court system, all bets are off.


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23 comments
animas
animas

Why is it so difficult to post a comment  on this site?  More than one person has complained about trying multiple times to get a comment posted in the past week.

animas
animas

This law has nothing to do with maternal safety or protecting the fetus, otherwise there would be more restrictions and qualifications on midwifes.  Midwife pregnancy assistance and alternative care at home delivery is frought with potential health risks for the mother and fetus. Midwife training is not adequate to be held to the high standard of acquiring hospital medical  staff privileges.  It seems that only those seeking abortion or D&C for blighted ova or other forms of natural early gestational demise must go through the extra expense of surgery center treatment .( In many cases, minor procedures have been safely managed in a physicians office for years).  Who benefits from the surgery center requirement?  Those who build, manage and operate surgery centers. I would suggest that a review of current or past large stock holders in U S Surgery Partners and their ilk would be very revealing.

Catbird
Catbird

As a former fetus myself, I cheer Jonathan Mitchell's argument for "fetal life" and I feel positive that if given the opportunity that my fifty million brothers and sisters who have been killed by Planned Parenthood's War on the Fetus would agree.  

dingo
dingo

Today they announced that the female labor participation rate hit a 24-year low. 

Did the Texas War on Women cause that?

OnlyLogical
OnlyLogical

"persuade women to "opt for childbirth"
Sounds like government intervention in the private decisions of women to me.

ruddski
ruddski

This can be confusing, especially since the Obama regime considers an unborn child an unborn child, not a fetus, and is considered a member of the family.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Well at least they're finally being honest about it and ended the silly patient safety charade.

observist
observist topcommenter

"The constitution allows the state to protect fetal life in this manner so long as it does not impose an undue burden,"

 Pay no attention to the right-to-lifers behind the curtain!  This is about protecting women's health, not making abortion difficult to access!

MissMacy
MissMacy

@Catbird This has to be the most idiotic comment I've ever read. There's no such thing as protecting "fetal life" ... you're just attempting to control and humiliate women. If Texas is so damned upset about protecting children, tell our demented governor to accept the federal government's free money for expanding Medicaid. And one more thing: VOTE FOR WENDY DAVIS.

ruddski
ruddski

Government intervention in health care decisions is a bad thing?

Catbird
Catbird

@MissMacy @Catbird It's clear that you mostly escaped the War on the Fetus because you have a computer and can type but the abortionist at Planned Parenthood must have sucked out a little of your brain while your mother had her feet in the stirrups. 

There is no such thing as "free money" from the feds, even our dummy Governor Rick Perry knows that and as to your endorsement of the Abortion Barbie....she can immigrate to your state to govern; Texas however shall elect Greg Abbott. 

observist
observist topcommenter

@ruddski   The Republican position is that government involvement in health insurance decisions is the Worst Thing Evar, but getting involved in the nitty-gritty of gynecological exams is good... you know, for the children.

Catbird
Catbird

@CogitoErgoSum 

Well both Hitchens and Pascal know the truth of it now and soon so will you and I.

Happy day! 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@Catbird (Blaise) Pascal's Wager, really? To quote Christopher Hitchens: "You give me the awful impression of, I hate to have to say it, of someone who hasn't read any of the arguments against your position, ever."

Oh, and to answer your question as to what I've got to lose -- only my intellectual integrity as a thinking and reasoning human being.

Catbird
Catbird

@CogitoErgoSum @Catbird 

You still have time to confess Christ and avoid the eternal torment and suffering of hell.

Blaze Pascal thought confessing Christ was the most important and most logical of all decisions.

What have you got to lose? 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@Catbird @CogitoErgoSum Ha! I just knew it. Very few anti-choicers aren't religious zealots. "The Lord will not be mocked." LOL. Oh, which lord is that -- Zeus, Ra, Thor, Brahma, Ranginui?

Catbird
Catbird

@CogitoErgoSum @Catbird 

sky daddy...pretty funny...i hope you will be able to keep your sense of humor as you age, become infirm and face your ultimate destination. 

The Lord will not be mocked...you would do well to take this warning seriously though as we both know you've got everything figured out for yourself.

Cheers! 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@Catbird Good. I correctly pegged you for the superstitious, sky daddy-worshiping type. Thanks for confirming.

Catbird
Catbird

@CogitoErgoSum @Catbird @MissMacy 

What coven are you a member of? 

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum topcommenter

@Catbird @MissMacy We didn't need those 50 million ... too many starving and uncared for people on this planet anyway. Also, 50 million is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of fetuses that have miscarried over the millennia. As an aside, I'm sure you're all for capital punishment because, you know, the sanctity of life and stuff.

animas
animas

It's very good for the pocket books of the surgery center builders, owners and operators, who likely vote Republican.

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