Supreme court says no to Texas abortion restrictions

The Supreme Court has struck down abortion restrictions in Texas:

The Supreme Court on Monday struck down Texas abortion restrictions that have been widely duplicated in other states, a resounding win for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important consideration of the controversial issue in 25 years.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the 5 to 3 decision, which said Texas’s arguments that the clinic restrictions were to protect women’s health were cover for making it more difficult to obtain an abortion.

The challenged Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and said that clinics must meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, and officials say they protect patients. But the court’s majority sided with abortion providers and medical associations who said the rules are unnecessary and so expensive or hard to satisfy that they force clinics to close.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

The Post has an article that looks at that last statement:

A key study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology estimated that the risk of a woman dying after childbirth was 10 times greater than after an abortion. The study estimated that between 1998 and 2005, one woman died in childbirth for every 11,000 babies born. That compares with one in 167,000 women who died of abortion complications. Doctors who perform abortions say the most common complications are not bladder issues or problems with reproductive organs — as some abortion opponents like to emphasize — but mild infection that can be easily treated.

So if Texas makes more women continue their pregnancy more women will die. Even if they just delay the abortion more women will die.

Let’s throw in some data (scroll down to tables 7 or 8):

Among the 38 areas that reported gestational age at the time of abortion for 2012 (Table 7), two-thirds (65.8%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.4% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation.

and according to here:

The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.

A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk—less than 0.05%—of major complications that might need hospital care.

The Supreme Court easily figured out that these laws were not about the safety of women and all about restricting abortion.

Another reason to support abortions

Jezebel has the story of a woman who got an abortion at 32 weeks:

I got pregnant on our first try, last July. We were really excited about it. Everything seemed to be fine at first, and then we found out at 10 weeks that there was no heartbeat. That was September 2015, and I had a D&C.

It was around 16 weeks, I think, when we got the scan that looked like his feet were turned in—like club feet. Our doctor said he was OK, that we’d just keep watching it. Then, also around that time, we found out that I had a weird umbilical cord, or velamentous cord insertion. Normally, an umbilical cord is implanted in the center of a placenta; mine was way on the edge. That affects blood flow, affects how blood and nutrients get to the baby, so they put me on rest. And, unrelated, I was also bleeding—these huge bleeds that looked like I was having a heavy period.

Basically, there’s a certain protein that exists inside the fetus, and a tiny bit is supposed to get into the mother’s blood, but very little. I had four times the median of what’s normal.

So they immediately thought about muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, things like that. They rushed me in, did a full scan, measured everything. And they couldn’t find anything. He looked fine. My doctor said all we could do is keep checking.

This baby was unviable, basically. That’s what they say. They say that the baby is “incompatible with life.”

So, she and her husband went through a very bad year. Of course, this being the US, things still weren’t easy:

There are a few doctors in the country—four of them, you interviewed one of them—who will do this. But my doctor had previously referred patients to Dr. Hern, who’s in Boulder. He’s this 78-year-old man who’s been doing this for decades, who developed a lot of the abortion procedures that we know to be the most safe. He’s had 37,000 patients and he’s never lost anyone. And he’s a zealot, but he has to be. There are websites dedicated to offering money to kill him; his practice has four layers of bulletproof glass. They’ve been shot at. He was there during the Roe v. Wade decision. He’s been through it all. And the only other peer he had at his level was Dr. Tiller, who was killed in 2009.

It ended up that she had to fly to Colorado and then fly back because she had brain surgery two years before and could not go through a regular childbirth (since the fetus was so far along, she had to still go through with the ‘birth’). So the politics took a bad situation and made it worse.  And if conservatives had their way it would be even worse. Oh and that whole abortionists do it for the money?

Inside, it feels very much like the ‘70s. There’s wood paneling, wicker furniture, a super-old sonogram machine. They don’t have a lot. The clinic is clean, but it’s old. They try to stretch the money as much as they can. I made friends with a nurse who was from Brooklyn, and she told me that the reason that the procedure is so expensive is because, first, their insurance is so crazy high, and second, the whole staff—the nurses, the front desk—is paid really well because they’re risking their lives to be there.

Remember what comes next

Via Kevin Drum, here’s your little reminder of one of Republican’s goals (there’s more here):

The 20-week bans are just the most high-profile component of larger pieces of legislation whose goal is to make it impossible for women to get abortions at all, no matter what the stage of their pregnancies. The bills are inevitably crafted with provisions that will shut down as many abortion clinics as possible. Abortion clinics often require doctors from out of state to travel to the clinic, because of the harassment, threats, and even assassinations that local doctors have been subject to? Then we’ll require that every doctor have admitting privileges at a hospital within a certain number of miles, which out-of-state doctors won’t have. And we’ll throw in some rules on how wide your hallways need to be (not kidding), meaning in order to stay open you’d have to do hundreds of thousands of dollars of remodeling. Failing that, we’ll make sure that women who need abortions will have to suffer as much inconvenience, expense, and humiliation as possible.

It’s these provisions, much more than the 20-week bans, that will make the largest difference for women in these states. Depending on what state they’re in, they’ll have to travel far—in some cases hundreds of miles—pay for hotels because of waiting periods, get lectures from doctors required to lie to their patients about things like a fictional link between abortion and breast cancer, and submit to forced and medically unnecessary procedures.

The goal of these bills is to ultimately get rid of all abortions–note that by making places that perform abortions shut down, they effectively make abortions illegal in all cases which is their goal. And remember also that many of these groups also want to make contraception illegal or at least much harder to get.

As with many things, there is a growing difference in the percent of people who want to ban most abortions in the  regions in the country –so women will be mostly ok in my region (where 75% say abortion should be legal in most cases), but not in the South Central (where only 40% say it should be legal in most cases).

Republicans double down

Mitt Romney lost the presidential election because he lost among women and minorities (President Obama won 55% of women (this is driven by a large preference among unmarried women), 93% of blacks, 71% of Hispanics, and 73% of Asians), so there was a lot of talk about change in the Republican party. How’s that going?

  • Republicans are involved in high-profile fights to get rid of abortion in places like Texas, Ohio,  and North Carolina (and in the US House and Senate).
  • Once the Supreme Court ruled against the Voting Right Act, states have rushed to put in restrictions to voting–restrictions that are much more likely to affect minorities.
  • Immigration reform passed the US Senate, but it now looks quite likely that Republicans in the House will not allow it to pass.

So, they have decided to really push the issues that caused them problems in the last election. And the person who said that the Republican Party should stop being the stupid party, is being stupid. This is an interesting ‘strategy’.

Roman Polanski doesn’t know

Via here (with other great comments), this is disturbingly surreal:

Roman Polanski says the birth control pill has had a “masculinizing” effect on women and that the leveling of the sexes is “idiotic”

The director made the comments Saturday at the Cannes Film Festival, where he came to premiere “Venus in Fur,” a film adapted from the David Ives play which stars Polanski’s wife and toys with the subject of gender.

Polanski said the pill has “changed the place of women in our times” while talking to reporters. He further lamented that “offering flowers to a lady” has become “indecent.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if that last bit had to do with this (Geimer was 13 at the time):

Geimer later agreed to a second session, which took place on March 10, 1977 at the home of actor Jack Nicholson in the Mulholland area of Los Angeles. “We did photos with me drinking champagne,” Geimer says. “Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn’t quite know how to get myself out of there.” She recalled in a 2003 interview that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and how she attempted to resist. “I said, ‘No, no. I don’t want to go in there. No, I don’t want to do this. No!’, and then I didn’t know what else to do,” she stated, adding: “We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this”.

Geimer testified that Polanski gave her a combination of champagne and quaaludes, a sedative drug, and “despite her protests, he performed oral sex, intercourse and sodomy on her”, each time after being told ‘no’ and being asked to stop.

Whoever was interviewing him should have asked the follow-up question: Do you think drugging and then raping a 13-year-old is indecent?


The Boston Globe has a long article on nuns and note that nuns have been influential in the US giving women a role in society outside of being a mother:

Poignantly, this upheaval and decline also come at a moment when historians and other scholars are taking a fresh look at the role of nuns in American life, and finding that nuns’ contributions to the broad story of America have been, if anything, underappreciated. Nuns have served as the face of ­Catholicism to generations of Americans, and they’ve also been pioneers in health care, education, and social work—fields that may sound decidedly secular today, but whose development in the United States was profoundly shaped by the labor and influence of nuns.

“If you’re a Catholic woman in American society between the early 19th century to the late 1960s, you had far more opportunities within church structures than outside them for education and meaningful work,” said Kathleen Sprows Cummings, a professor of American Studies at Notre Dame, and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.

Of course there are now many more opportunities for women and the number of nuns has plummeted. There were two big decisions in the 1960s and 70s where the Catholic Church could have changed to a less patriarchical system and both time they stayed with the old ideas.

The first decision concerned contraception and the newly available pill. A commission was formed to decide if using the pill was acceptable. Despite a majority on the commission voting to allow contraception, Pope Paul VI decided against changing the Church’s stand against contraception.

The second decision had to do with female priests. The Church decided that women could not be ordained as priests (or as a deaconess, although that might change).

Thus, the Church went from being an institution where women had more opportunities to one where they had less. Last year the Church decided to crack down on nuns because they weren’t being obedient enough to the bishops, clearly showing that they were considered subordinate to men.

Taliban and women

Religious extremists really do work to be evil:

At the age of 11, Malala Yousafzai took on the Taliban by giving voice to her dreams. As turbaned fighters swept through her town in northwestern Pakistan in 2009, the tiny schoolgirl spoke out about her passion for education — she wanted to become a doctor, she said — and became a symbol of defiance against Taliban subjugation.

On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen answered Yousafzai’s courage with bullets, singling out the 14-year-old on a bus filled with terrified schoolchildren, then shooting her in the head and neck. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack.

and she was shot because?

”She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,’’ Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. ‘‘Let this be a lesson.’’

If you don’t think the right way, act the right way, and dress the right way you are subject to death. And for the Taliban that means, if you’re female, that you show that you think or show yourself at all in public. The leaders of the Taliban have become the symbol of evil.

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