Post-Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Part Two: Stellar pro-life critiques of Supreme Court decision

By Dave Andrusko

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Carol-Gosnell-HB2-QuotereThere has been a boatload of brilliant pro-life commentaries, decrying the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn portions of Texas’ 2013 law, HB 2 in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Here are just a handful.

#1. Carol Tobias, president, National Right to Life:

How shabby are these abortion clinics that they cannot meet the minimum standards other outpatient surgical centers are required to meet, and just how bad are these abortionists that they can’t get admitting privileges at a local hospital?, As we saw with Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia, it’s clear that the lucrative abortion industry is not able or willing to police itself and allows filthy, deplorable conditions to go unchecked. …

In the years following Roe v. Wade, the Court exhibited extreme hostility to regulation of abortion as a medical procedure. However, in its 1992 Casey decision, the Court turned a corner, rejecting the idea of it being ‘the country’s ex officio medical board’. Today, they reversed course and decided that they know better than representatives duly elected by the people of the United States.

2. From Mollie Hemingway, at the Federalist:

But just on the issue of regulatory oversight of clinics [at issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt] , the media are perpetuating a closed loop. The abortion corporations’ claim is that abortion clinics are safe and wonderful, but will somehow be forced to close if required to hold the same health and safety standards as other surgery centers. They carry water for the abortion corporations, fighting any oversight of abortion-related practices. They smother-to-the-death any and all stories about unsafe and unsanitary conditions at health clinics. They mock voters who don’t get their marching orders from Planned Parenthood and other abortion corporations. They praise Supreme Court justices who run roughshod over the law to keep at bay any regulation of abortion clinics. Rinse, repeat.

#3. From Right to Life of Michigan:

Numerous cases in recent memory show how a lack of regulatory oversight puts the health of women in danger. In the case of abortionist and convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell, Pennsylvania authorities allowed Gosnell to operate on women in filthy conditions for years. This negligent atmosphere directly led to the death of one of Gosnell’s patients, Karnamaya Mongar. Emergency medical technicians were unable to navigate her stretcher through Gosnell’s clinic following a botched abortion.

Many states have experienced similar problems, including Michigan. City of Muskegon officials closed Women’s Medical Services in 2012 after discovering unsterilized medical equipment, improper disposal of syringes, numerous leaks in the roof and widespread general filth. If veterinary clinics were allowed to operate like that, there would be public outrage. Why do abortion clinics get special treatment?

Michigan’s Bureau of Health Systems (BHS) conducted only three onsite surveys of abortion clinics from 2007 to 2009. BHS cited all three for noncompliance with state surgical facility requirements regarding equipment sterilization, maintenance of a sterile environment, and sterile pre-op handwashing. All three continued operating despite unsafe conditions.

Justice Breyer’s decision relied heavily on statistics from abortion clinics to substitute his own judgement for that of state regulators. In Michigan, however, abortion clinics routinely fail to report patients’ complications, including even patient deaths.

#4. Heather Weininger, Wisconsin Right to Life executive director:

No matter what setbacks we may receive from the Supreme Court, we remain undeterred in our efforts to protect women and unborn children from the abortion industry. We will continue to empower women with hope and the information they need before making the life-and-death decision of abortion. We will work to protect unborn children from dismemberment abortion where they are torn apart, limb-from-limb. We know that the abortion industry sees women and unborn children as a means for profit, but we see them as people, worthy of our protection under the law.

#5. Editorial board of National Review Online:

But, to quote Justice Thomas’s dissent: “The Court employs a different approach to rights that it favors.” That was true in this case from beginning to end. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Court articulated its “undue burden” standard, which — as later elaborated in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) — allowed that “where it has a rational basis to act and it does not impose an undue burden, the State may use its regulatory power to bar certain procedures and substitute others, all in furtherance of its legitimate interests in regulating the medical profession in order to promote respect for life, including life of the unborn.”

That standard — though vague and absent, like the right to abortion itself, from the Constitution — has allowed legislatures to enact parental-notification laws, waiting periods, informed-consent laws, and partial-birth abortion bans. “Undue burden” is now little more than an all-purpose excuse for striking down laws the majority, for ideological reasons, doesn’t like.

But in Whole Women’s Health, the Court suddenly abandoned that standard in favor of “weighing the asserted benefits against the burdens,” using a calculus entirely of the majority’s creation. Predictably, that calculus gave considerably more weight to the “evidence” provided by the abortion industry and its partisans. The claim on which the case was largely premised — that H.B. 2 had precipitated the shutdown of several abortion clinics — remains unsupported.

But the majority simply ignored the relevant evidence to substitute its policy judgment for that of the legislature. As Justice Alito pointed out in dissent, the Court also set aside the legislation’s emphatic “severability” provision, which stipulated that if part of the bill were struck down in court the rest of it would stand, and in doing so nullified portions of the law that were constitutional even under the Court’s own analysis.

#6. Mary Eberstadt:

Once upon a time, liberals portrayed the procedure of abortion as a thing regrettable but sometimes necessary. This was the cottony, “safe, legal, and rare” piety of yesteryear. That old rhetorical dressing has been ripped off for good. Today, The Daily Show is taking a tut-tutting in the media for having tweeted to its 4.25 million followers a comment that some find tasteless: “Celebrate the #SCOTUS ruling! Go knock someone up in Texas!” The indignation is faux. Under the logic of secularist progressivism today, the only thing regrettable about abortion is that there isn’t more of it.

#7. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life:

Lack of abortion industry oversight has been harmful—and in a few cases, deadly—for women. Dangerous conditions and unscrupulous providers have been exposed at abortion centers in numerous other states. For example, abortionist Kermit Gosnell conducted criminal activity for years at his abortion facility in Philadelphia while the state provided no oversight. He was convicted in 2013 on three counts of murder, another count of manslaughter and 21 felony counts.

In Minnesota, abortion facilities are not even licensed or inspected. The Minnesota Department of Health has no authority to even enter these facilities as it does for other outpatient surgical centers.

“Reasonable regulation serves to hold the abortion industry accountable and ensure a degree of safety for women,” said Fischbach. “Today’s Court action, which reversed common-sense regulations, is deeply disturbing for everyone who cares about the health and safety of women.”

#8. Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director, Kansans for Life:

In its pretzel logic the Court now dictates that state regulation must be subject to interpretation of how it might present an “obstacle” to abortion. The same standards any state uses to insure safe medical facilities —under today’s rulings—cannot routinely apply to surgical abortion facilities.

This is ridiculous.

Even disgusting, filthy hole-in the-wall clinics that won’t upgrade their facilities are now –in the Court’s eyes—protected by a veritable “necessity” exemption. Yet the existence of at least two such clinics in Kansas City were a main impetus for the Kansas abortion clinic licensure law passed in 2011.

That Kansas law was ten years in the making, including testimony of patient abuse, abortion malpractice and “third-world” caliber clinics.

In addition to a bundle of posts on the decision today, we will have more the reminder of the week.