By Dave Andrusko
If you could work your way through Justice Stephen Breyer’s 40 page majority opinion, obliterating portions of Texas’ HB 2, there are two inter-related conclusions that virtually leap off the page.
First, he comes close to charging Texas with bad faith in passing a law that requires abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. (In a brief concurring opinion, Justice Ginsburg said what Breyer implied: “It is beyond rational belief that H.B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women.”)
Second, that the “data” Justice Breyer relied so heavily on represented the triumph of “science [or evidence] over ideology.” Much of that data was generated by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) and heavily promoted by Daniel Grossman, a rising star in pro-abortion circles.
Questioned by the Associated Press in a story that gushed over TxPEP in general, Grossman in particular, Grossman emailed, “It’s very heartening to see that the Court really cared about the evidence and referenced a lot of high-quality studies in the ruling,” adding modestly, “This was a triumph of evidence over ideology.”
Of course, if the mainstream media weren’t so in the hip pocket of the Abortion Industry and its academic spear carriers, they might actually read those who have actually read what Grossman/TxPEP have written, such as Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, who heads NRLC’s Department of Education and Research.
Earlier this week, Dr. O’Bannon talked at length with Associated Press reporter Paul Weber, pointing out some of the holes, leaps of logic, and unsupported inferences in the pro-abortion research. For his trouble, there was one quote from Dr. O’Bannon.
I asked him what he told Weber and for a summary of the four-part series he wrote about what the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt told us about the impact of HB 2.
The big-time backers of abortion [specifically the Susan T. Buffett Foundation, named for the wife of billionaire investor Warren Buffett who died in 2004] gave the University of Texas at Austin a lot of money to set up a pro-abortion research center and enlist the services of Dr. Grossman, an abortion “expert” from the University of California at San Francisco, America’s abortion training academy. One of Grossman’s chief tasks was to develop “research” supporting their contention that Texas’ 2013 law, HB 2, closed clinics, thereby placing an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion.
But most reporters and a majority of justices (with the conspicuous exception of Justice Alito) failed to ask some basic questions about the claims TxPEP was peddling. Yes, abortion clinics closed in Texas, but why? Was it because they were old, substandard clinics that were due to close anyway? Was it because of the provisions of HB 2 that were actually under court scrutiny, or because of other elements in the law that were not being challenged (such as the limits on chemical abortions)? Or was it because of other funding policies that Texas passed years earlier, that abortionists were retiring,or even that demand for abortion was dropping in Texas the way it was in most of the rest of the country?
I asked Dr. O’Bannon if it would be fair to say the majority in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt pretty much took Grossman’s claims at face value, accepting them more or less as gospel.
Yes, but clearly not Justice Alito. He was very pointed and very specific in his questioning at the oral arguments. The attorney representing the abortion “providers” stumbled badly, failing to give substantive answers to his questions. In his dissent, Justice Alito “researched the research.” He properly challenged claims about clinic capacity, travel times, and unproven assertions about the number, timing, and reasons the clinics closed.
Did Dr. O’Bannon not see a role for research in abortion-related cases?
Of course there is a role. Research is fine when it illuminates an issue. But the research the majority relied upon in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was crafted to protect the interests of the abortion industry with scant attention to the legitimate health and safety issues of Texas women, let alone unborn babies.