Linda Greenhouse, the veteran reporter and columnist for the New York Times,
provides one of the clearest evaluations of Monday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down laws in Texas intended to prevent women from obtaining abortions. It's about facts, not propaganda.
The court said the laws unduly burdened women — in the dishonest name of health. Abortion, particularly the pharmaceutical kind used in the earliest stage of pregnancy, is safer the any number of other medical procedures not similarly regulated. Writes Greenhouse:
There was no mystery in what the five justices in the majority, crucially including Justice Kennedy, accomplished this time, nor in the decision’s impact. By holding the state’s asserted rationale for its clinic-decimating regulations up to the light and finding it specious and counterproductive, the court has shut down one of abortion opponents’ main recent strategies: enacting “targeted regulation of abortion providers” laws that impose on doctors who perform abortions special restrictions not placed on doctors who do procedures of equal or greater risk.....
.....Why does the absence of a health benefit matter? Because, as suggested in Casey and made explicit here, a court confronting a state-devised obstacle to abortion has to balance the burden the law imposes against the benefit it provides. Not the benefit the state claims for it — we’re only trying to protect women’s health, the Texas governor, Greg Abbott, and attorney general, Ken Paxton, avowed lamely on Monday — but the benefit the law actually conveys. In the decision, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, evidence-based medicine meets evidence-based law.
Even abortion foe Justices Alito and Roberts couldn't come up with a solid reason for their dissent besides procedural arguments, Greenhouse notes.
You will have noted that Arkansas Republicans — led by Sen. Tom Cotton and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — continue to throw out the dishonest "women's health" theme to justify standing in the way of women's constitutional rights.
The good news is that this court ruling opens the door for the challenge of other burdens
that are merely transparent obstacles to abortion, not truly health oriented. These include waiting periods and mandatory fetal monitoring tests adopted in Arkansas.
The hypocrisy knows no bounds in Arkansas. This morning, a Republican legislator and abortion foe was urging that Arkansas join progress and expand telemedicine. Of course it should. But it should not prohibit, as this and other legislators have done, the ability of doctors to dispense pills via telemedicine, as they have done in the case of abortion.
If nothing else, the law in Arkansas that requires a doctor with hospital admitting privileges to prescribe a pill will fall sooner rather than later.