The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday scrubbed a Texas abortion law making the constitutional right harder, more dangerous and more expensive to reach.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 Monday in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that the country’s most restrictive anti-abortion measure is unconstitutional.
The Lone Star state’s misguided law is reflected in laws in more than 20 other states including Ohio, where some of the most retrograde laws in the nation to an abortion reside.
Meanwhile, Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said Ohio licensing requirements apply not only to abortion clinics but all surgical centers, including laser eye clinics, according to a published report. A spokesman for Attorney General Mike DeWine told the Columbus Dispatch that the two Texas statutes in question don’t exist in Ohio.
Ohio law may not be exactly like Texas law but challengers will have their day in court nonetheless to see if those differences really amount to something different as pro-life advocates allege they do. A federal court will hear a lawsuit next year launched by Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio vs. Richard Hodges, Ohio’s Director of Health, the Dayton Daily News reports. The case, in its discovery and pretrail phase, challenges House Bills 59 and 64, passed in 2013 and 2015, on the basis of its written transfer agreement requirements between health care facilities to transfer patients. The Ohio legislature and Gov. John Kasich prohibited public hospitals from entering into such contracts with abortion providers.
Reaction To The Ruling
In her statement on today’s court ruling, Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, said the importance of the court’s decision cannot be overstated.
“The Supreme Court made it clear that politicians cannot pass laws to block access to safe, legal abortion. Yet today’s victory does not undo the past five years of damage and restrictions already written into 18 Ohio laws. No woman or doctor should be punished for receiving or providing essential medical care. And that is the case today in Ohio. We will continue to fight restrictions on safe, legal abortion on behalf of our patients in Ohio. We will not be punished, and we will not go back,” Ms. Harvey said today.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was in Columbus last week to promote Ted Strickland’s candidacy. For Richards, it was a big victory for women.
“We are thrilled the Court recognized that these laws do not enhance patient safety — rather, they punish women by blocking access to safe abortion,” she said today. “Yet far too many women still face insurmountable barriers, which is why we are taking this fight state by state. It’s time to pass state laws to protect a woman’s constitutional right to abortion, and repeal ones that block it. A person’s right to make their own decisions about abortion shouldn’t depend on who they are or where they live.”
Ohio’s Popular Governor?
Last week Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed Substitute Senate Bill 296 sent to him by a super majority Republican legislature. Ohio’s lame duck governor has signed into law other bad election laws without thinking twice, but he managed to veto this one. For some the appearance of John Kasich thinking for himself “despite partisan pressures” accounts for his majority job-approval rating. The bill the governor vetoed made anyone who asked a judge to keep Election Day polling places open beyond the statewide 7:30 p.m. closing time liable for the costs to do so.
Sadly, Gov. Kasich has been unable to think for himself on a range of other bill and topics, so his norm is widely overlooked while his rare actions—like expanding Medicaid over the objections of his Republican legislature—are hailed as strikes of independence. Making it harder for Buckeyes for vote has been Mr. Kasich’s norm, as it has been with Gov. Kasich’s accomplice in such matter, Attorney General Mike DeWine, who along the the secretary of state have fought and lost on Federal rulings before.
Mr. Kasich, who could only win one state primary while losing 49 others before he dropped out in early May, tried his best to steer clear of women’s on the campaign trail. His alignment is stark with those who think women need an obstacle course to achieve their constitutional right to an abortion while anyone who wants to buy a military assault weapon that can kill dozens of innocents in just a few seconds should have no conditions on that purchase.
John Kasich is so paranoid on abortion services and why he would sign bad bills into law that could impact his twin teenage daughters that he can only say that he’s pro-life. On Monday, he couldn’t even say that, even on Twitter, where he avoided the decision altogether, opting instead to talk about flooding in West Virginia.
“The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a victory for women across America,” Hillary Rodham Clinton said in prepared remarks. Mrs. Clinton was in Cincinnati with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren when she said, “By striking down politically motivated restrictions that made it nearly impossible for Texans to exercise their full reproductive rights, the Court upheld every woman’s right to safe, legal abortion, no matter where she lives.”
Hillary Clinton regaled the correctness of the decision, saying, “Today’s decision is a reminder of how much is at stake in this election. We need a President who will defend women’s health and rights and appoint Supreme Court justices who recognize Roe v. Wade as settled law. We must continue to protect access to safe and legal abortion – not just on paper, but in reality.”
Mrs. Clinton was in Cincinnati Monday along with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, marking the Clinton campaign’s third appearance in Ohio in nearly as many weeks. High on Hillary’s wish list is that Ted Strickland become the next senator Ohio sends to Washington.
Former Democratic Governor Ted Strickland jumped on the bandwagon with his own take on the court’s ruling, that opens a lane to challenge similar laws in Ohio and nearly a dozen other states.
“Today is a victory for women’s healthcare,” Mr. Strickland, who recently released his Ohio Families First Plan, noted with apt cynicism how “ridiculous that in 2016 a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions is still under attack.” Strickland essentially said he’ll take the opposite tact from that of incumbent GOP Sen. Rob Portman by working to guarantee quality, affordable and lifesaving healthcare services are available to all women. Ted Strickland accuses Sen. Portman of leading efforts to restrict women’s access to healthcare services and giving a woman’s employer the power to deny coverage for services like birth control. When that happens, and current law allows it, women and families take big financial hits for basic services and medicine. Portman is portrayed by Team Strickland as “pushing the agenda of his rich and powerful friends while Ohio’s families pay the price.”
Strickland is tied at 42 percent with Sen. Portman in recent polling, so winning the female vote is key to victory in the fall. Mr. Strickland’s new coalition group, “Women for Ted,” features over 100 Ohio women leaders who are supporting his campaign.
Cecile Richards added there are more items on her to-do list, including overturning the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits spending federal money for abortions, and seating the ninth justice on the high court are among Richards’ to-do list as soon as that is politically possible.
The Ohio Democratic Party released a statement from Chairman David Pepper and Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus Chair Kathy DiCristofaro. “This decision by the U.S. Supreme Court is a huge victory for women, as the court struck down a Texas law that interfered with a woman’s personal decision-making and ability to get the care they need,” said Pepper. “With this ruling, it’s time for John Kasich and Mike DeWine to stop defending similar laws that Republican legislators have put into place — laws that do nothing to protect Ohio women and make it harder for them to access the care they need.”
Ohio law currently requires abortion clinics be licensed as ambulatory care facilities, and since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2011, half of Ohio’s abortion clinics have been forced to close.
State Rep. Nickie J. Antonio, a Lakewood Democrat, said the court’s decision “calls into serious question the constitutionality of Ohio’s restrictive laws regarding women’s access to comprehensive healthcare and the wisdom of our attorney general’s unrelenting defense of those laws at taxpayer expense.”
Another Democratic House Member, Kent Smith of Euclid, said today’s decision should Ohio’s Republican-controlled legislature to stop what they’ve been doing, because not only does it turn women into “second-class citizens” but the laws are inherently flawed and only benefit “constitutional lawyers.”
State Rep. David Leland, a former ODP Chairman and lawyer, saw the underpinned legal basis the court used to make its decision. “Texas placed an undue burden on women, violating the American Constitution,” he said about the constitutionally protected right women have that “must be treated as such.”
State Rep. Emilia Sykes of Akron was happy with the decision for “full and unfettered access to reproductive healthcare services.” She said Ohio lawmakers should understand the connection between women’s healthcare choices and the U.S. Constitution.
State Rep. Dan Ramos of Lorain wasn’t sympathetic to the Texas law. He said Republicans have used these types of regulations, ostensibly under the guise of patient health, to actually chip away at women’s access to comprehensive healthcare. “I am glad the court has seen these restrictive measures for what they are – an undue burden on a constitutionally guaranteed right.”
Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court based on “admitting-privileges requirement” and “ surgical center requirement.”
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, Casey, supra, at 878 (plurality opinion), and each violates the Federal Constitution,” Justice Breyer wrote.
The decision by the court comes as just eight justices are taking part in the cases following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. President Barack Obama has nominated federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to take Scalia’s place, but Mr. Garland has not received a hearing or a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Texas abortion clinics challenged a state law and regulations that already have cut the number of abortion providers in half, to roughly 20, the AP notes, adding that fewer than 10 would remain if the 2013 law were allowed to take full effect.
A PerryUndem poll commissioned by Vox found that the majority of Americans oppose restrictions meant to shutter health centers or make it more difficult for women to access abortion, and that 70 percent of Americans don’t want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade.