Reproductive Rights, Texas Style

by Dish Staff

Emily Bazelon analyzes a recent abortion ruling in Texas:

Judge Lee Yeakel struck down the state’s “brutally effective system of abortion regulation,” as he put it, saying it was not likely to improve women’s health, would impact poor women the most, and “would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.” The judge was clear and convincing on these essential points. But his ruling, as well as another one over the weekend that’s keeping clinics open in Louisiana, may well be in danger on appeal.

The case centers on a 2013 Texas law that “required all clinics to be outfitted as ambulatory surgical centers,” one example of the “far-reaching regulations that are enacted in the name of protecting women’s health and result in shutting down clinics”:

[T]he underlying legal question—how far a state can go to restrict access without crossing the constitutional line into saddling women with an “undue burden,” in the Supreme Court’s magical mystery words—remains unresolved. Yeakel took a crack by finding that in combination, the constellation of provisions in the 2013 Texas law creates “unreasonable obstacles” that have “reached a tipping point.”

Ramesh Ponnuru accuses Bazelon of ignoring constitutionality:

At no point in the article’s discussion of the Texas law does the article mention the Constitution it supposedly violates. … To come up with a clear rule distinguishing permissible from impermissible abortion regulations, the Court would have to be willing to limit its own discretion, and to sustain the pretense that this rule has something to do with the Constitution. So far it has balked.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown, meanwhile, gives an overview:

[I]n general TRAP (“targeted regulation of abortion providers”) laws haven’t fared so well in the Southern states lately. In early August, a federal district judge ordered Alabama legislators to reconsider a requirement that abortion-clinic doctors have hospital admitting privileges. And in July, the notoriously-conservative 5th Circuit court ruled that Mississippi’s admitting-privileges law—which would have forced the state’s one remaining abortion clinic to close—was unconstitutional.