Last week U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel blocked a new Texas anti-abortion law (HB2) that was about to take effect. The law would have left the entire state of Texas with, at most, eight reproductive health centers. The existing clinics would have had to meet the minimum state standard for an “ambulatory surgical center” at an estimated cost of at least a million dollars each. Texas had contended the new law, like similar laws across the country, was intended to “protect” women and ensure they received the best possible health care.
Uh, no. More like no care at all.
In an article entitled “9 Facts About Abortion Rights a Federal Judge Is Forcing Texas Republicans To Heed,” Steven Rosenfeld outlines the judge’s reasons for blocking the law and includes the compelling statistics that show just how regressive the new law would have been. Most people, of course, understand immediately that 8 abortion clinics, located in Austin (1), Dallas (2), Ft. Worth (1), Houston (2), and San Antonio (1 or 2) aren’t nearly enough to serve all the women in a state the size of Texas — an area, the judge noted, that is “10 percent larger than France.”
Rosenfeld explains how the judge left no doubt about how or why he reached his decision:
“The number of women of reproductive age living in a county more than 50 miles from a Texas abortion clinic has increased from approximately 800,000 to over 1.6 million,” Yeakel wrote, referring to the part of the law that required abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of a clinic, which took effect last fall. “Women living in a county more than 100 miles from a provider increased from approximately 400,000 to 1,000,000; women living in a county more than 150 miles from a provider increased from approximately 86,000 to 400,000; and the number of women living in a county more than 200 miles from a provider increased from approximately 10,000 to 290,000.”
The surgery center requirement would double those figures. “If not enjoined, the ambulatory-surgical-center requirement will further increase those numbers,” he wrote. “After September 1, 2014, approximately 2 million women will live further than 50 miles, 1.3 million further than 100 miles, 900,000 further than 150 miles, and 750,000 further than 200 miles.”
That followed Yeakel’s citing of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey ruling which said, “A law is unconstitutional if it imposes an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion.” The precedent stated, “A finding of an undue burden is a shorthand for the conclusion that a state regulation has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
Hard to dispute the numbers. But someone always does.
Following the court’s decision, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) said:
“Today’s decision is a setback and would allow abortion facilities to continue operating under substandard conditions — that is a real war on women.”
No, Senator, substandard conditions would be coat hangers and back alleys. And the real war on women is the GOP’s unceasing effort to consign women once again to those primitive conditions.