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Friday, April 20, 2018

Opinion

Texas anti-abortion bill shuts down a slew of clinics, minimizes hope for free choice


It’s hard to get an abortion in Texas. In a couple of weeks, it’ll be even harder: just three days after a series of new abortion restrictions were rejected for their unconstitutionality, a federal court of appeals is reinstating these restrictions to take place throughout the state beginning in November.

At least 12 prominent clinics in the state will have to shut their doors. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott made an emergency appeal to the 5th court, under the impression that a law requiring doctors admit privileges is a constitutional use of the legislature’s authority.

In a statement last Thursday, he emphasized the court’s unanimous decision, calling it a “vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.”

It’s a view mirrored by our governor, who purported that the decision “affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas” and said, “We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”

These are ridiculous sentiments. On the surface, they’re barely feasible: under the guise of an alleged safety screening, they’re really just nods toward criminal, unconstitutional pandering. The bill will close at least a third of the abortion clinics in Texas right off the bat.

In a statement last week, Planned Parenthood disclosed that the passage would ultimately mean that “abortion would no longer be available in vast stretches of Texas.”

Luckily, the court’s decision is only temporary until January, when they’ll have the opportunity to participate in a complete hearing. In the same statement, Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, vowed to contest the ruling until it was no longer contestable.

“This fight is far from over. This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide.”

That’s a large part of the problem: this notion that a woman’s abortion be inherently and uncompromisingly safe. It’s not. It probably won’t ever be. But what can, and should, be assured is the aspect of “choice” — the choice for a woman to proceed with a procedure if she deems it appropriate to do so.

Throughout the trial, independent abortion clinics took steps to acquire admitting privileges throughout the state. Only a handful were able to do so. Hospitals with religious associations are hesitant to allow abortion doctors operate on their premises. Some have requirements that doctors live a specific radius to the facility.

For a bill contingent on choice, it’s certainly shortened the process.

Senior staff columnist Bryan Washington is an English junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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