Texas Continues War on Women

Brace yourself for more crappy news out of Texas. As both Sarah and I have previously written (see here and here), Texas is moving closer and closer to a restrictive abortion law, which will require doctors to perform an ultrasound on women seeking abortions 24 hours prior to the procedure. More specifically, doctors must make the sonogram visible, the heartbeat audible, and describe fetal development. In other words, Texas doctors will be legally required to treat women like unintelligent children incapable of making their own decisions.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) has been challenging this law from the get-go, but has been met with obstacles every step of the way. Last month, a panel of judges from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a preliminary injunction blocking key provisions of the law. Now, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has decided he can not grant the CRR’s request to permanently halt enforcement. However, it appears that he is as disgruntled with the decision as we are:

“There can be little doubt that [the law] is an attempt by the Texas Legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions,” Sparks wrote in his decision today.

He added: “It appears the panel has effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment in the abortion context,” and “in no other medical context does the government go so far in telling doctors what they must, and must not, do.”

At least someone in a judicial capacity gets it!

While it may seem like the CRR’s hands are tied, they aren’t backing down. The Center has filed a petition requesting that all judges on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rehear the case, rather than a selected panel (as was the case in January). We will be sure to keep you posted on any forthcoming news.

What is particularly worrisome about this law is not only the immediate impact it will have on Texas women, but what it signals for the rest of the country. In a time of zealous anti-choicery, we must do everything we can to protect and uphold the rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade. Without that federal protection, abortion would become entirely a state issue, and this Texas case clearly demonstrates the nose-dive abortion rights would take in that scenario.

I have heard too many times — even from progressive feminists — not to worry, Roe isn’t going anywhere. To that, I say complacency is handing anti-choicers a big, fat victory. GOP front runners in the 2012 presidential election would love nothing more than to chip away at, if not completely overturn, Roe. And unfortunately, they have the power to do that through their ability to appoint federal judges (who serve for life, by the way).

So what can we do? Vote in November, for one thing. Let your pro-choice voice be heard … loud and clear! And take action via CRR’s Trust Texas Women campaign.

Comments

  1. The Rev. Laina Wood Casillas says:

    I heard that the method for the untrasound was insertion of an ultrasound device into the vagina.

    If this is so, it amounts to forcible rape with an object, by the State. Rape of a pregnant woman by the State of Texas.

    Is there no conscience amongst these people? I’ve always found the State of Texas to be a place with a lot of pride about iteslf among the citizens. I am shocked and horrifed at the practice they have put in place – and astonished that Texans would have any part of such a thing.

  2. As a Texan, I can definitely say that this is not the opinion of everyone :)
    The biggest problem I guess I see with this is that you simply cannot be forced to undergo medical procedures. If you refuse a medical procedure, a doctor could refuse to give you a prescription or care, I suppose because they don’t believe you’re acting in your best interest. However, I feel that this is in the case where you refuse to get a blood pressure test before going on birth control, or something like that, where without the procedure you’re refusing, the treatment or medication you want could potentially harm you. This is different. This is not in the direct interest of the patient. This extra procedure beforehand doesn’t ensure patient well-being. In fact, I feel this could be harmful to the patient, emotionally or otherwise. What if the patient is a rape victim? Or a mother who has to give up her baby because of complications? Would there be any exceptions to this rule at all?
    I think that this is in direct violation of the rights of the patient and is just medically irrelevant.
    A quotation I really liked from this article that relates to Rev. Casillas’ post above (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/21/virginia-abortion-bill-could-constitute-rape?newsfeed=true) is a doctor saying “that she opposed all ultrasound laws because there is no medical evidence to support them and because she was against the “intrusion of politics into medicine”.”
    It’s medically irrelevant. It’s political. It’s wrong.
    But I still love TEXAS! The politics can be messed up here, but it’s a great place, especially in the bigger, more accepting cities.

    • M. Moan says:

      Abigail,

      I agree, the procedure is medically irrelevant for the mother and truly political. I haven’t studied the issue carefully enough to assure this, but if it walks like a duck, it usually quacks… you know how it goes. But I wonder, is it truly a horrible thing for a woman to be presented with what is essentially an educational intervention program – ham-handed as it might seem to many – 24 hours before she makes one of the biggest decisions of her life? Might it not make a woman make a more informed decision if she saw the development of a heartbeat, visible body shape, etc. at, say, 13 weeks? I agree, if the procedure is intrusive and painful, it might need to be reconsidered, and if a mother is emotionally unstable or the victim of rape, proper exceptions might be made, but I don’t see the big deal with this. Unfortunate situations like rape and health of the mother aside, if you are mature enough to make a baby and you can’t stand to see a few pictures of it and talk to a doctor for a few minutes before you terminate its life, I honestly have no compassion for the emotional scarring you may experience.

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