The Supreme Court has struck down Texas abortion clinic regulations meant to protect women, provoking strong reactions on both sides. In this decision, the court drew upon its own legal precedent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 abortion case where abortion regulations were proclaimed legal only under certain conditions. Apparently, ensuring abortion health and safety measures is an “undue burden” for women seeking an abortion, even though it cannot be proved that any woman who wanted an abortion didn’t get one as a result of requiring clinics to be safe.
The Supreme Court has, unfortunately and incorrectly, decided that abortion is a woman’s right and that getting it — no matter the sub-par conditions — is what truly matters.
Where does it end? Because of this, it may become legally harder to implement and enforce much of the headway we have made towards regulating abortion in states throughout the country. These particular regulations — which were not about abortion itself but rather about the safety of women — couldn’t even stand!
There is no clear metric for deciding what is or is not an undue burden and what can or cannot be regulated. What about states that are smaller — places like Rhode Island or Delaware where driving to a top standard clinic takes a short time? Geography, finances, and individual preference could all contribute to what constitutes “undue burden,” which is truly an undefinable and transient concept.
But though this case will certainly open the door for rolling back regulations meant to protect the unborn, the case directly applied to rolling back regulations meant to protect the woman. And rolling back women’s health and safety is scary. No one should want to see back-alley abortion clinics again.
As one pro-life doctor said in his response, “Today’s Supreme Court decision means that Gosnells are still going to be allowed out there practicing.”
So that means we can have doctors who can’t admit patients to a local hospital, but can perform abortions. The prospect of doctors without hospital admission privileges is terrifying, and no doctor will be held accountable for patients with complications who need to visit the ER after their abortion.
That means more women can easily get a medical abortion with less follow up, a procedure with the trauma and risks of expelling their small baby at home. (1 in 100 women need hospitalization after this procedure due to heavy bleeding that won’t stop.)
If further regulations are thrown out, and abortions can continue to be done with dirty tools in infected facilities, women will rush into abortion without seeing an ultrasound and without regard for her rights to informed consent.
Let history record that the pro-life movement tried to ensure clean abortion clinics that met health and safety standards. Let history record that women in America, thanks to the Big Abortion Lobby, were left instead with this:
“In all the years I have spent writing and thinking about a woman’s right to choose, I have never set foot in an abortion clinic, because I have never needed to. In my mind, I had always pictured a clean and comfortable place. … This was no Westchester clinic. The place was dirty and dark and the women in the room outside were standing, as there were no chairs. A woman beside me was crying … the visceral reality of abortion — the grimy clinic, the sobbing and hapless young woman…abortion is still a dirty word,” Reporter Hannah Selinger.
Chaney Mullins serves as Special Projects Writer for Concerned Women for America.