Friday, November 1, 2013

Fifth Circuit Overrules Yeakel, One-Third Of Texas Clinics Can No Longer Perform Abortions

I can't say this was unexpected, but it is certainly unwelcome. Here's Chris Tomlinson at TPM:

... but not in Texas
A panel of judges at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Thursday evening that Texas can enforce its law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward. The panel issued the ruling three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel determined that the provision violated the U.S. Constitution and said it serves no medical purpose.

The panel's ruling is not final, and a different panel of judges will likely hear the case in January. But in the meantime, Texas clinics will have to follow the order. Twelve of the 32 clinics in Texas that perform abortions don't have doctors who have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, meaning they won't be able to perform the procedure, though they can provide other services.

In its 20-page ruling, the appeals court panel acknowledged that the new provision "may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions." However, the panel said that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that having "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate" a law that serves a valid purpose, "one not designed to strike at the right itself."

If this ruling is affirmed in January, make no mistake about its impact: women will DIE because of it.

Americans who have not lived in Texas have no idea of the distances involved; 32 clinics were really less than minimal coverage of the state already. For many poor women, a clinic 100 miles away might as well be on Mars.

I could cruelly hope that wives and daughters of federal judges would be among those who die of the effects of this ruling. But since it achieves its effect primarily by placing abortion beyond the financial reach of many women, I will save my breath. I could less cruelly hope that the other panel that rules on the lawsuit will rule the other way, but with a largely partisan federal judiciary... GOP presidents having appointed radicals to the bench; Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama not having used their appointments to balance the courts... that would not be a rational hope on my part.

So to hell with them all, GOP radicals and wimpy Democrats. The blood of the women who die is on their hands.

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