Federal Judge Overturns Some Provisions of Texas Abortion Law (Again)
August 30, 2014 11:05 PM   Subscribe

Just 3 days before they would go into effect, Federal Judge Lee Yeakel struck down the admitting-privileges and ambulatory surgical center requirements of Texas's recently passed HB2 (remember the one with the filibuster?), finding that they placed an undue burden on women, especially those in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso.

Appointed to two different courts by George W. Bush (as both governor and president), this is not the first time Judge Yeakel has ruled against the bill. Last October, after declaring the admitting-privileges provision unconstitutional, the judge's decision was reversed by the 5th Circuit, to whom the state of Texas is appealing again. If the provisions are allowed to stand, there will be only 8 clinics that perform abortions in Texas, and only in the major metropolitan areas.

Also of note in the ruling, "The court is dismayed with by the considerable efforts the state took to obscure Rue's level of involvement with the experts' contributions." Referring to Vincent Rue, who has been found to be coaching, and in some cases writing,, expert testimony to be given in support of these laws. Rue "originated the concept of post abortion syndrome."

Previously, Previouslier, Previousliest
posted by LizBoBiz (31 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Mr. Rue does brisk business these days orchestrating testimony from pliable witnesses willing to supply “expert” support for state abortion restrictions, a task for which he has been paid $42,000, so far, by Texas. That his guidance is relied upon is incredible given that his own past court testimony and theories have been discredited by judges and others.
Well, if he's good enough for Alabama and Wisconsin, he's good enough for Texas.
Rue was involved in recruiting many of the witnesses for the trials in Wisconsin and Alabama, according to the witnesses’ testimony. Many of the same experts had been called upon to justify admitting privileges laws in other states, including in Texas, where the law has shut down over one third of the state’s abortion clinics.

One such witness was Dr. James Anderson. On the stand in Alabama, Anderson admitted that he had not actually read one of the reports cited in his own supplemental report to the court, just the one sentence he quoted. Anderson also said he had worked with Rue on several other abortion cases and that Rue had, in fact, written that supplemental report.
I'd like to say those are signs of desperate people reaching for desperate measures, but that's glossing over the malicious intent behind it.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:30 PM on August 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

Vincent Rue and David Reardon are a couple of scoundrels, aren't they! I'm incensed.
posted by Anitanola at 12:00 AM on August 31, 2014

posted by fshgrl at 1:04 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

From page 11 of the judgment:
[..] the court concludes that the practical impact on Texas women due to the clinics' closure statewide would operate for a significant number of women just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion. [...] These practical concerns include lack of availability of childcare, unreliability of transportation, unavailability of appointments at abortion facilities, unavailability of time off from work, immigration status and inability to pass border checkpoints, poverty level, the time and expense involved in traveling long distances [...]
My emphasis. I thought it was an interesting point: the state may not burden women seeking an abortion by forcing them to pass border checkpoints. Is this addressed solely to people with complicated immigration status (i.e., they could actually prove their right to residency, given time) or is it addressed to all women, including illegal immigrants? If it's addressed to people who are actually illegal immigrants, it implies that border control posts are interfering with these women's constitutional rights. That seems an odd conclusion, given that the border control posts are otherwise legal. On the other hand, illegal immigrants have rights, and it seems undeniable that those rights must include the right to seek an abortion.

Furthermore, there aren't very many abortion facilities, which means there will still be women blocked from clinics because they live on the wrong side of a border control post. Surely the state is under no obligation to set up special clinics for them, so they don't need to pass a border control post? Perhaps this means that the border control posts themselves are illegal? I know a lot of people would agree with that.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:14 AM on August 31, 2014

most abortions happen at home
posted by robbyrobs at 5:34 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thank you very much for including a pointer to the judgment, which should be a standard for this sort of posts.

The first footnote is fairly bizarre, and a bit ominous I think. That the court felt it necessary to pre-emptively reassure everyone that they did their job diligently implies that they're expecting a rough time from the appellate. Which I suppose is not surprising since they've already had one decision overturned here.

Also I'm curious about the dynamics that led to both sides forgoing a jury.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:49 AM on August 31, 2014

I'd call this a little victory, but its Texas. Isn't everything supposed to be bigger in Texas?
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:55 AM on August 31, 2014

I'd like to say those are signs of desperate people reaching for desperate measures

That's exactly what it is though. But with severe real-life consequences added on. Nobody who gives a flying fuck about other human beings wants to return to the era of coathangers and back alleys.

Women must have access to abortion that is safe and within their economic means, end of discussion. Because it's going to happen anyway.

Said it before, but I am so glad I live in a(n area of the) country where my sister and my niece, should they ever need to, have access without question.

Would also like to point out that if US media were writing about a similar situation in other countries, they'd be using phrases like 'religious extremists with a stranglehold on government.'

I'm getting incoherent because this makes me so angry--and if it makes me angry, I can't even imagine the incandescent rage women must be feeling. Men--because it's always men, sometimes with the front of women who have been brainwashed--do not have the right to control what women do with their bodies at all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:38 AM on August 31, 2014 [12 favorites]

the border control posts are otherwise legal.

posted by schmod at 6:46 AM on August 31, 2014

Really, schmod? Not to derail too far, but are you suggesting that countries don't have the legal right to control who crosses their borders?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2014

Really, schmod? Not to derail too far, but are you suggesting that countries don't have the legal right to control who crosses their borders?

We're not talking about crossing borders, we're talking about internal checkpoints. And the "complicated immigration status" Joe in Australia referred to effectively means "appearing Hispanic".
posted by hoyland at 7:20 AM on August 31, 2014 [9 favorites]

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. My bad; by 'border control' I thought that actually meant, you know, on borders. Disregard.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 AM on August 31, 2014

It's not clear what, exactly, the "border control" argument refers to. It could easily refer to "going over the border to Mexico for an abortion", which would obviously be a Bad Idea if you can't get back over the border because you crossed illegally in the first place.

I'm not sure that I would read into it a commentary on internal checkpoints one way or the other.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:34 AM on August 31, 2014

I can't find that border-bit y'all are discussing, which seems a bit off, to allow (less safe) abortions in order to allow illegals to have them. This part makes a LOT more sense to me, but it's about another type border:

..If the State’s true purpose in enacting the ambulatory-surgical-center requirement is to protect the health and safety of Texas women who seek abortions, it is disingenuous and incompatible with that goal to argue that Texas women can seek abortion care in a state with lesser regulations. If, however, the State’s underlying purpose in enacting the requirement was to reduce or eliminate abortion in parts or all of Texas, the State’s position is perfectly congruent with such a goal.
posted by dabitch at 8:18 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

"Illegals"? That is so not okay.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:25 AM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

I apologise for using the currently commonly used shorthand for illegal alien / undocumented immigrant that is right in the middle of going out of vogue. I hope my point didn't drown when you stumbled across the offensive word.
posted by dabitch at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't find that border-bit y'all are discussing, which seems a bit off, to allow (less safe) abortions in order to allow illegals to have them.

It's right there on page 11, where Joe in Australia said it was.

Additionally, this isn't about allowing "less safe" abortions. From the ruling (page 14/15):
Abortion, as regulated by the State before the enactment of House Bill 2, has been shown to be much safer, in terms of minor and serious complications, than many common medical procedures not subject to such intense regulation and scrutiny. Additionally, risks are not appreciably lowered for patients who undergo abortions at ambulatory surgical centers as compared to nonsurgical-center facilities.

Many of the building standards mandated by the act and its implementing rules have such a tangential relationship to patient safety in the context of abortion as to be nearly arbitrary. Furthermore, the court concludes that it is unlikely that the stated goal of the requirement — improving women’s health — will actually come to pass. Higher health risks associated with increased delays in seeking early abortion care, risks associated with longer distance automotive travel on traffic-laden highways, and the act’s possible connection to observed increases in self-induced abortions almost certainly cancel out any potential health benefit associated with the requirement. The court finds no particularized health risks arising from abortions performed in nonambulatory-surgical-center clinics which countenance the imposition of the ambulatory-surgical-center requirement on the provision of all abortions. The imposition of such requirements is even weaker in the context of medication abortions, where no surgery is involved.
posted by bradf at 9:05 AM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]

IIRC, "border" checkpoints can now legally extend up to 100 miles into U.S. territory, so I imagine that (the wrong-looking-kind-of) people in Texas can easily get stopped and questioned while traveling from town to town within Texas proper.
posted by LooseFilter at 9:07 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anyone living in McAllen or Laredo, or pretty much anywhere on the border, will have to pass an interior border checkpoint on their way to San Antonio. If they're in the El Paso area, they'll have to go through a checkpoint heading into New Mexico, and another one on the way back into Texas.
posted by bradf at 9:18 AM on August 31, 2014

Yes, "border" check points outside of the actual legal border. A person would not generally seek to go to Chihuahua to seek an abortion as it is legal only in Mexico City in the first trimester (and that's a flight, not a drive).

This article speaks more to the internal checkpoints and the availability of Cytotec over the counter in 50 countries, including Mexico.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 9:20 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

because it's always men, sometimes with the front of women who have been brainwashed

Yes, those poor feeble front women, unable to resist male mind control.

Do you really think it adds anything of value to reduce the debate over abortion to this absurdly simple caricature?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:15 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I do think that women who work against their own interests (or pull IOKIYAR) are brainwashed, yes. Ditto Log Cabin Republicans, for example. Double-ditto anyone who is poor who votes conservative anywhere. It has nothing to do with being feeble, and everything to do with being dominated and indoctrinated by men from birth. See also the entire history of the Catholic church.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:44 AM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yes, those poor feeble front women, unable to resist male mind control.

Don't worry, religion is equal-opportunity mind-control.
posted by klanawa at 5:42 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

So you don't have to look it up: IOKIYAR = "it's okay if you are a Republican" and what FFFM is suggesting is that some anti-choice women are partisan hypocrites who believe terminating a pregnancy is uniformly motivated by evil selfishness among people who aren't Republicans, while all the rest are simply brainwashed.
This perspective overlooks the fact that women are not a monolith and that some anti-choice people, including many anti-choice women, do really honest-to-goodness believe that abortion kills ensouled babies, who are the most vulnerable people in our society and are thus entitled to more social protection than women, even teenagers, who are more able to speak for and protect their own interests than the voiceless fetuses. I think such those anti-choice people are completely 100% wrong, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
It's tempting to dismiss the whole anti-choice movement as another attempt to police women and female sexuality, but that's as incomplete and shortsighted as saying that fashion exists only to fulfill those functions. (Fashion also exists to make loads of money and to give some people a means of self-expression, albeit a rather limited and problematic one.)
posted by gingerest at 9:44 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ditto Log Cabin Republicans, for example.

On the other hand, the LCR did about 99% of the work in getting DADT repealed, despite a campaign of consistent, almost tireless opposition from the Left. So it goes.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:31 PM on August 31, 2014

This from Texas

posted by rowboat at 12:53 PM on September 1, 2014

(see the previousliest)
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:45 AM on September 2, 2014

I don't think an exemption for rape and incest is justifiable from an anti-abortion perspective, or tactically sound from a women's rights one: it looks like an attempt to split the consensus by providing a squishy pseudo-solution.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:56 AM on September 6, 2014

Sometimes I want to have a little flash card that I can check when things are confusing. It would say "THIS IS NOT SATIRE" or "YOU DO NOT LIVE IN AN ALLEGORICAL SFNAL DYSTOPIA" or, even better, "MARGARET ATWOOD DID NOT COMPOSE THIS REALITY":

Dallas Police ‘Swarm’ Local High School, ‘Pray’ for Fetus
Dallas police “swarmed” Woodrow Wilson High School on Friday in response to reports that a human fetus was found in a bathroom. The police department investigated the scene, bringing in at least one helicopter and reviewing video footage, and called for help in identifying a “suspect.”
Followup is here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:48 AM on September 10, 2014

« Older Chibatman, more impressive than BatLyft   |   Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments