The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment, reports the Texas Tribune.
In 2017, Texas legislators passed Senate Bill 8, which prohibited doctors from performing abortions via “dilation and evacuation”–grasping and extracting fetal tissue with surgical instruments. After a federal judge blocked the measure, Texas sought to reinstate the bill before the Fifth Circuit Court.
Justices on the court heard arguments from Texas attorneys and litigators from pro-abortion groups, including the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood. Texas assistant solicitor general Heather Gebelin Hacker deemed dilation and evacuation a “barbaric” procedure. “It’s illegal to kill an animal that way in Texas, we wouldn’t execute a murderer that way, and notably the abortion providers don’t tell women that that’s what the procedure entails,” Hacker stated.
Hacker noted that less harmful abortion methods, such as potassium chloride injections, have a proven safety record and are currently available at abortion clinics. Thus, Texas’ ban on fetal dismemberment would not affect abortion access in the state.
Center for Reproductive Rights counsel Janet Crepps, meanwhile, responded that the ban was “invasive” and “medically unnecessary,” and that potassium chloride injections increase patients’ risk for complications. “Just the idea the state thinks that’s what’s within its power is contrary to the whole idea that women have a right to autonomy, dignity,” Crepps added.
Judges on the Fifth Circuit Court asked litigators to interpret Alabama’s dilation and evacuation ban, which was struck down by the Eleventh circuit Court of Appeals. The justices also sought clarification on potassium chloride injections.
Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller told reporters after the hearing that alternative abortion methods, such as injections, are “absolutely not the standard of care.” Referring to Alabama’s failed dilation and evacuation law, Miller stated, “I really lean on the fact that a [dilation and evacuation] ban hasn’t withstood these kind of proceedings to date.”
Emily Horne, a senior legislative associate for Texas Right to Life, expressed a different view. “It comes down to we’re really talking about a modest restriction on a very brutal abortion procedure while the child is alive,” she said.
Observers expect the court to issue its ruling in the next few months.
The U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has allowed Missouri to enforce laws which restrict abortion, reports The Hill.
The court overturned a previous ruling which blocked the regulations. As a result, abortion doctors in Missouri must now maintain affiliations with local hospitals, and clinics must obtain ambulatory surgical center licenses.
In 2016, Planned Parenthood disputed the regulations in court, arguing that the restrictions served no purpose and unduly burdened women seeking abortions.
“Look no farther than Missouri to see what kind of harm courts can inflict on women’s rights and freedoms,” said Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president. “[J]udges on the 8th Circuit continue to re-write the books on abortion access. Today’s ruling threatens to eliminate abortion access at all but one health center in the state.”
Pro-life lobbyist Samuel Lee expressed a different view. Missouri’s abortion law does not jeopardize women’s access to healthcare, but in fact “protects the health and safety of women who are seeking abortions in Missouri without imposing an undue burden on them,” Lee explained.
Indeed, U.S. Circuit Judge Bobby Shepherd found that a lower court improperly struck down Missouri’s regulations. That court did not consider the potential benefits of the state’s hospital affiliation requirement, Shepherd wrote in the majority opinion for the 8th Circuit.
Shepherd condemned the lower-court judge for relying on “slight implication and vague conjecture.” The lower court should instead have based its decision on “adequate information and correct application of the relevant standard.”
Shepherd’s ruling provides precedent for further restrictions on abortion. As the 8th Circuit Court’s decision demonstrates, abortion rights litigators may fail to mount a sound legal counterattack to abortion limits.
Missouri officials have forced a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Kansas City to stop performing abortions, reports local NPR affiliate KCUR. The clinic attempted to renew its operating license before August 10, but state health officials could not conduct a complete inspection of the facility.
Emily Wales, Planned Parenthood’s general counsel, believes political motivations prompted the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to shutter the clinic. “It’s hard for me to imagine how this isn’t for purposes of delay,” Wales stated.
A partial state inspection of the abortion clinic revealed that the facility failed to meet state guidelines regarding patient care. Planned Parenthood Great Plains spokeswoman Emily Miller protests that the clinic should be able to “go above and beyond” such guidelines. “That’s the best way to serve our patients,” Miller explained.
Missouri health officials, however, retain considerable control over abortion providers in the state. For example, medication abortion providers must contract with back-up ob-gyn doctors who enjoy admitting privileges at a hospital close to the abortion clinic. Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit to block that regulation, but a federal judge dismissed the suit. Planned Parenthood had failed to show that Missouri women faced “a substantial burden” because of the regulation, the judged ruled.
Planned Parenthood’s midtown facility hopes to resume abortion procedures soon, and has hired a new abortion physician. However, the new provider lacks admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, so thanks to Missouri law, the clinic may not be able to perform abortions even if it secures a new license.
9/12/18 Update: Missouri officials now plan to renew the clinic’s license, but will require the facility to comply with additional regulations.
Planned Parenthood’s regional Pacific Northwest chapter has filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho in an effort to undermine transparency on abortion.
The suit concerns a new Idaho regulation requiring doctors to report complications of abortion procedures, such as bleeding or allergic reactions to anesthesia. Abortion providers must also document their clients’ previous number of abortions and some personal characteristics like age and race.
Planned Parenthood has asked Idaho’s U.S. District Court to void the regulation. The abortion giant argues that Idaho’s law lacks safeguards to protect patients’ personal information from the public eye, and unjustly targets abortion providers while exempting other doctors from the reporting requirement. Further, Planned Parenthood complains that the statute is poorly worded, which could spell legal trouble for abortion providers who incorrectly report complications due to the law’s imprecise verbiage.
Ultimately, however, pro-abortion activists fret that Idaho’s regulation demonizes individuals seeking “abortion care.” “This is another attempt by Idaho politicians to shame and stigmatize [abortion clients] and to spread the myth that abortion is dangerous,” said Planned Parenthood lawyer Hannah Brass Greer.
Despite Planned Parenthood’s efforts to erode abortion providers’ accountability to elected public officials, at least 20 states have passed laws requiring doctors to report patient outcomes after abortion procedures. Pro-life activists should welcome these efforts to increase transparency on abortion practices. The well-being of both unborn children and their mothers is at stake.
In May, Iowa’s legislature enacted a “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban which prohibits doctors from terminating fetuses with a detectable heartbeat. A Michigan-based pro-life organization sees that law as an important starting point for further pro-life legislation. The group seeks to make Iowa’s abortion ban even more comprehensive by extending legal protection to unborn children conceived in rape or incest.
The group, “Save the 1,” has a special interest in protecting children conceived in rape, incest, and sex trafficking: All of the organization’s members either became pregnant or were themselves born under such circumstances.
Jennifer Christie, a board member for Save the 1, feels children conceived through mal-intent deserve just as many protections as other unborn children. “I have a 3-year-old son and he plays with Legos and he pronounces hospital ‘hostable’ and he sleeps with a bunny slipper and he was conceived in rape,” she told the Des Moines Register. “And his heart beats like everybody else’s.”
Earlier this week, Save the 1 filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood against the state of Iowa. The lawsuit disputes Iowa’s new heartbeat statute on the grounds that the law violates women’s rights to due process, liberty, safety, happiness, and equal protection under the law.
Save the 1, meanwhile, argues that the same fundamental rights listed by Planned Parenthood also extend to unborn children conceived in rape or incest. Thus, Iowa’s heartbeat legislation should not be repealed, but rather expanded to increase protections for the unborn.
Attorney Rebecca Kiessling, acting president and founder of Save the 1, clarified her organization’s stance on the heartbeat measure. “We support the heartbeat bill. We want to see the legislation upheld,” Kiessling stated but added that she desires the measure to become more comprehensive in the future.