June 27 was an historical day for women’s rights. The Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Texas law HB-2 which was obviously designed to close abortion clinics in that state. The decision was the most important Supreme Court decision regarding a women’s right to a safe abortion since Roe vs. Wade.
Three years ago, after an 11 hour mini-filibuster by Texas Legislator Wendy Davis which was widely publicized, HB-2 was passed by the Texas state legislature. It was signed into law by Texas Gov. Rick Perry who gleefully acknowledged it was a model for other states.
The law HB-2 forced many clinics providing abortions to close by placing undue and unnecessary requirements upon all abortion clinics. They said the law was necessary to protect the health of a woman. It was interesting that under questioning by the Supreme Court Justices, Texas’s lawyers could not find a singe incidence where a women’s health had actually been threatened in the clinics they would force to be closed.
More than 20 states followed Texas’s example and have passed similar laws. They now find themselves at odds with the Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see what they do.
The decision was a victory for Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of Whole Women’s Health in McAllen, Texas, The case was Women’s Whole Health vs. Hellderstadt which challenged the Texas law. Miller took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, after three years since HB-2 became law, and the closing more than 30 out of 44 women’s clinics across the state of Texas, Miller has won. The Court found in her favor by a 5-3 margin.
Said Hillary Clinton, “The decision is a victory for Texas and across America. Safe abortions should be a right--not just on paper but in reality.” GOP presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump said nothing.
The Justices were not very kind to the state of Texas’s arguments for passing the law. Justice Steven Breyer said, “In the face of no threat to women’s health Texas seeks to force woman to travel long distances to get an abortion in crammed — to — capacity super-facilities.” Breyer went on, “Nationwide childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortions to result in death, but Texas’s law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home. Colonoscopy, a procedure that typically takes place outside a hospital (or surgical center) setting, has a mortality rate 10 times higher than abortion.”
In the Opinions of the Justices they made it clear that Texas was involved in perpetrating a fraud upon the people of Texas.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a separate Opinion from the majority, because she wanted to make sure the ruling by the Court would set a precedent in any future challenges to a women’s right to a safe abortion. Said Ginsburg. “Laws like HB-2 do little or nothing for health but rather strew impediments to abortions.” She slammed the proponents of HB-2 for thinking Texans or the rest of us could be so ignorant as to believe their lies. She said. ‘It is beyond rational belief that HB-2 could genuinely protect the health of a woman.” She said much more, including, “women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners — at great risk to their health and safety.”
Wendy Davis has been vindicated. Many of the findings of the Court had been argued by her during her 11 hours before the Texas Legislature.
Also on June 27, the Supreme Court vacated the bribery conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, unanimously. The Court found that simply taking money and gifts, in McDonnell’s case upwards of $175,000, and even if the state can show the actions of an elected official benefited the giver, that is not enough to sustain a bribery conviction. The State of Virginia failed to prove that there was a quid pro quo agreement between McDonnell and Jonnie Williams.
What we need is a law which would prohibit gift and money taking altogether by governors, legislators, state senators or anyone employed by the state, from anyone who may be impacted by the actions of the state government. I would suggest that any amount over $200 is a misdemeanor and any amount over $1,000 a felony for every $1000.00 received. A similar federal law would also be a good idea. Campaign contributions would be exempt according to current law.
The laws against bribery allow for discriminatory prosecution based on little evidence, depending on political party. The Supreme Court was right.
Glen McAdoo, a Fallon resident, can be contacted at email@example.com.