Another week, another batch of bad news on the clinic access front. The week’s biggest news is the breaking story that the 5th Circuit has ruled to allow the Texas bill HB 2 to remain in effect, which means that the clinics in the state unable to get access to hospital admitting privileges, rebuild as ambulatory surgical centers, or both will continue to shut down as the bill goes fully into effect. The news, although disappointing, was expected, as the circuit preliminarily let the bill go into effect while the court deliberated, a sign that they were likely to find it constitutional. Still, a sliver of hope was still alive, and now it is not.
So what does this mean, both for Texas and other states? One, the same circuit that has just stated that admitting privileges are not an undue burden for the clinics in Texas is going to be deliberating the same rule for the sole clinic left in Mississippi next month. The cases are somewhat different. As the last clinic in the state, the court could find the rule an undue burden as it would cut off all legal access in Mississippi, something it was not doing in Texas. On the other hand, for many people who would be seeking care, the distance from where they reside to a clinic outside the state could actually be closer than it was for pregnant people in Texas to now get to one of the remaining clinics that will be open six months from now, so the question may be do state borders even matter?
The issue of in state versus out of state is one that will have to come to a head at some point soon, and maybe not just in Texas or Mississippi. In Ohio, the board of health is debating closing the last clinic in Toledo, Ohio, by saying it is not complying with regulations because it does not have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. The clinic has responded by obtaining a transfer agreement, but the state is unhappy with the arrangement because it is with a hospital in Michigan, not Ohio, even though the hospital is only 50 miles from the clinic. The clinic could close for lack of a “local” agreement in case there is a complication that requires hospitalization, all despite the fact that according to the clinic owner there has not been one complication that has actually required hospitalization in the last 12 years of operation. Meanwhile, pregnant people in Ohio are crossing the border into Michigan already in order to get an abortion because the clinics there are more accessible.
Louisiana may soon be in the same position as Texas, with the same law running through the legislature currently. However, despite being over 9 months since the state of North Carolina passed a law stating they would set new clinic requirements, there is still nothing written. Odds are, they’ll take their time until after election day. The courts are still deliberating over Alabama’s own blocked admitting privileges bill, while Wisconsin’s Attorney General has appealed to the Supreme Court over their blocked admitting privileges bill. And let’s be frank, the Supreme Court is where this is all going to have to go in the end.
Between demanding pregnancy tests in bars and refusing to allow accessible birth control, the state of Alaska seems to be taking a nearly obsessive look at their pregnant women. But that’s fine, since one lawmaker claims birth control is just being “irresponsible“ anyway. That may be where the Supreme Court heads, too, since it is looking uncomfortably likely that it may side with Hobby Lobby and agree that a corporation’s desire to block a person’s access to birth control due to its religious beliefs outweighs an employee’s right to have the same insurance policy coverage as someone who doesn’t work for anti-contraception religious businesspeople.
A professor in California is being charged with battery for allegedly attacking two anti-abortion sisters on campus with graphic bloody fetal posters. Unsurprisingly, the sisters are actually the daughters of the legal director for Life Legal Defense Fund which, among other things, supports groups that go onto campuses and gets into skirmishes and claims their first amendment rights were violated by the people who don’t want to interact with them and want them to go away. Other graphic displays are hitting high schools and colleges across the nation. Besides, the Washington Post says graphic photos aren’t offensive, just rude.
The man who was arrested for vandalizing a Montana abortion clinic has pled not guilty to the charges. The Montana Human Rights Network has released a report about the incident, noting that the suspect is the son of a crisis pregnancy center board member and that the center had both the previous building that the clinic was housed in and forced them out of it.
Kansas can go ahead with stripping all funding from Planned Parenthood even when they keep abortion separate from their other services. Virginia may allow genetic counselors to refuse to work with same sex couples.
But in good news, some city councils are still fighting to reaffirm that safe, legal abortion a right, some candidates are thinking maybe they have gone too extreme on abortion, and Georgia Right to Life may end up kicked out of the National Right to Life Committee due to its refusal to embrace anything sort of “personhood” status for fertilized eggs.
In other words, the best news of the week is that the anti-choice faction has become so successful, it’s starting to cannibalize itself. That’s a silver lining, I think.
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