New hopes for Planned Parenthood after repeal of Texas bill
The war has begun.
Here in the great state of Texas, a person would have to be living under a rock to not have heard of the abortion regulations signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, a law that was filibustered for more than 11 hours by Democratic State Rep. Wendy Davis, who is now in the race for Texas governor herself.
But one day before the law would have taken effect, The New York Times reported that Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin blocked part of the law. The law would have made it mandatory for doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the place of termination. Judge Yeakel replied that “the act’s admitting-privileges provision is without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
And then came the unexpected. Three days after the law was blocked, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans overturned the decision and reinstated the law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting rights while the courts hash out the final decision.
The debate was pushed deeper into turmoil as supporters of the block push for the law’s continued obstruction partially because of the enormous cost the law will impose on abortion facilities. The New York Times reports that even the Court of Appeals acknowledges the costs, saying the admitting privilege rule may “increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions.”
But an earlier abortion case heard by the Supreme Court was cited by the Court of Appeals, claiming that as long as a guideline has a beneficial purpose, whether it has “the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate it.”
Yet Planned Parenthood isn’t giving up.
“This fight is far from over,” said the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, in a statement. “This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide.”
Fox News reported that some hospitals would not grant abortion-performing doctors admitting privileges because of religious affiliations or out of fear of protests. Thus, it’s been hard for many doctors to get those admitting rights.
With so many obstacles facing women’s health, the lines seem blurred. On the one hand, making abortions safer for women is a good thing, since it is nearly impossible to be rid of abortion practices permanently; there will always be a demand. Yet abortion is already one of the safest procedures practiced in America. ProChoice.org reports that 0.05 percent of women have serious complications involved with a medical abortion. With such a good safety rating, it seems like these extra precautions are unnecessary.
Perry had his own thoughts about the most recent ruling, saying the “decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas.” Perry also made it clear he one day hoped to have abortion abolished in the state of Texas. Abortion will never be just a thing of the past. Where there is demand, there will always be supply, in one shape or another.
Dr. Lester Minto, from Harlingen, does not have those admitting privileges and made clear that he would not perform abortions as long as the law disallowing him to practice without them was in place. He told the Washington Post that the women he sees will begin doing “drastic things.” “Some,” he predicted, “may even commit suicide.”
He described women he had seen resorting to unbelievable tactics, including women having their partners beat them in the abdomen with baseball bats and drinking assorted mixtures trying to terminate their pregnancy.
Right here in Houston, at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, abortions are commonly performed. Dr. Paul Fine, medical director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said there are quite a few abortion-performing doctors that don’t tell many people, if anyone, that they perform abortions at all, for fear of violence from protesters or activists. Yet Fine believes firmly that the benefits doctors performing abortions provide definitely outweigh the risk of violence because of what he saw women endure before the famous Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court verdict.
“I remember women coming in with a coat hanger,” Fine recalls. “Deaths were common and tragic, and I’ll never forget the look in those women’s eyes.” During the appeals, Fine was asked by the state the approximate number of abortions he completed in the past year. Fine’s answer was “probably several hundred.”
There is no doubt that abortions are in demand and will happen. With so many clinics closing, many women are unable to receive safe health care. One day, the bickering about who is right will end; we can only hope women aren’t the ones destroyed in the midst of it.