Louisiana has many of the same restrictions on the books, but they passed with few significant fights in the Legislature and none of the massive protests. The state has added nearly any legal limit it can find on abortion — and several that courts have said weren’t legal.
As they have added new statutes, the bills passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support and with Louisiana lawmakers acknowledging that they hope to lower the number of abortions with each restriction.
Unlike in Texas, Louisiana’s debates don’t showcase a deep divide between Republicans and Democrats. A handful of Democrats oppose the abortion restrictions, but often far more of Louisiana’s Democrats vote to support the measures. A few individuals show up to committee hearings to complain about the latest proposed abortion restrictions, but the bills don’t attract widespread outrage.
via La. already has Texas abortion limits | The Town Talk | thetowntalk.com.
. . . [A] Washington Post editorial protests that providing such basic safeguards will mean that “all but one of the clinics probably would close because of the associated costs.”
Such protests tell a lot about a low level of health and safety at those abortion clinics.
via Freedom2Care: Protests tell a lot about a low level of health and safety at abortion clinics.
Unfortunately, the Gosnell (and, possibly Texas’ Karpen) case tell us more about the effects of not monitoring State laws that are in existence.
But we do have evidence that the current standards are too low for health and safety. Over the last few months, as Texas’ Legislature considered new laws concerning abortion safety, we heard testimony from women who were required to stand in lines in narrow halls while waiting for their abortion, who were forced to walk out of the facility while hemorrhaging, and who were denied privacy. Most of all, we heard that the much touted claim that abortion is between a woman and “her doctor” is often meaningless, since the doctor doesn’t offer continuing care after the procedure.
Those who #Stand4Life should get to know Jason Vaughn; as one of the effective leaders for life in Texas, he’s making history! Here’s his recount of the events of last week:
Late Friday night we won the battle to reduce abortions in Texas! It was a great night and I am so excited to be a part of history. I’ve said before that the world may never know my name, but perhaps one day I will hear my God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. You see that man there? I used you to save him from being aborted and I used him to change the world.”
It was a long and tiring week. There were some nights when I fell asleep in my clothes from the day. I had the privilege to work amazing men and women who love the people of Texas and want to see the end of abortion.
For those interested I want to walk you through the week.
Read the rest and see the pictures and videos he uses to document Texas’ #Stand4Life, via Standing for Life – The Unfinished Story | Twisted Conservative.
There are plenty of secular reasons to oppose elective abortion.
One of the main charges (read the comments on just about any blog, news story that even touches the subject) against pro-life advocates is that we are trying to force our religious views on everyone else. We’re accused of attempting to create a theocracy and compared to – or called – the “Taliban.”
First, for those of us who are human-centric, it is a fact that on this planet, humans are the only species having this conversation, which makes us special.
For atheists and agnostics who believe that this is our only life, doesn’t that give weight to the right not to be killed?
Finally, and most importantly, there’s the ethical viewpoint put forward by the Declaration of Independence. (Ignoring the “Creator,” and “created,” of course.) The Declaration clearly states that rights are endowed on the individual rather than bestowed by the government. that might does not make right. The proper function of government and society is to protect our inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Where might makes right to the point that the whoever has the biggest gun or can win the most votes, no one is truly safe.
Even if “We the People” decide who is human enough and who is not human enough to have the right not to be killed, there is no liberty and no pursuit of happiness.
Please let me know if you have other secular pro-life arguments.
Rush was talking about the Supreme Court ruling on gay “marriage,” but he might as well have been talking about the Texas Dems, Cecile Richards, and last night’s Mob at the Texas Capitol:
I have often said that what animates people on the left — what motivates them, what informs them — is defeating us. No matter how, no matter what, no matter what it means. Their hatred for us overwhelms anything else. No matter the result, victory that includes impugning and demeaning and insulting us is what they seek. It’s what makes them happy. Now, the left politicizes everything, and in this case, hardball politics became the name of the game.
Orange t-shirts admittedly outnumbered those of us in blue at the Texas State Capitol on Sunday, June 23. However, in the long run, what mattered in the passage of the House version of Senator Hegar’s Senate Bill 5, sponsored in the House by State Representative Jodi Laubenberg, is that Texas voters had sent a clear majority of pro-life Republicans to the House of Representatives.
If you’ve always wondered about the meaning of “chubbing,” look at the 6/23/13 record of the House video, available at the House website. Pro-abortion Democrat after Dem took the microphone to bring an amendment, with fellow pro-abortion Dems standing to ask questions and run out the clock.
You can also watch the effects of “POO,” or calling for “points of order” around 4:30 PM. House Democrats called for a review of the Rules, resulting in adjournment and restart after a delay of 2 hours.
As to those t-shirts, someone showed up with 1000 t-shirts to give away. Where did that money come from? Interestingly, the women who gave out the shirts also wore Planned Parenthood buttons and successfully instructed those in the shirts how to act in the Gallery. And the orange shirts obeyed immediately.
One theme the Dems repeat is that SB 5 is not the protection for women that the Republicans say it is. They claim that pro-life laws are not about human life and ethics, but rather, simply about winning Republican primaries. This is a great example of “projection” of one’s own motives and wishes onto another. While I believe that Jessica Farrar would abort everyone with spina bifida and that Thompson is convinced that the embarrassment of the trauma of rape and incest is cured by abortion, the ultimate reason for the long night of interruptions and delays is that the clock is running out on the Special Session. If the Dems manage to delay long enough, SB 5 will not pass in the House. Even when it passes, the time used up in the House decreases the time that will have to be wasted in blocking it by filibuster in the Senate.
In the long run, the Democrat members in the Texas Legislature have repeatedly called for unfettered and unregulated elective abortion on demand.They claim that abortion is better for women and families than spending money on babies and children, that allowing babies to be born will ruin women’s lives, that it’s better to abort children with “fetal anomalies” and “birth defects” even when the “defective” human could live and make his or her own way through life. Senfronia Thompson even brought out a coat hanger to shake at the House and claimed that the cure for the “embarrassment” of the trauma of rape and incest is abortion, even after 20 weeks. Every one of the Dems seemed to have no understanding that the facility improvements will not be required for 15 months.
SB5 was passed finally in the House this morning. It will now have to go back to the Senate. There may not be time enough for reconciliation with the Senate version because of delays caused by both the House Republicans and House Dems. I hope that the protections in the Bill become law to protect the women who make the choice to abort their children and to protect the lives of fetuses at 20 weeks and greater.
Edited 7/11/13 for grammar and spelling errors – BBN
There is no more “scientific” justification for killing humans with “fetal anomalies” before birth than for killing them after birth. The decision to kill is always a moral decision – or an immoral one.
Would this author support “after birth abortion” for the babies born with the same anomalies? That must make all those around her – or working at her organization – who were born with or diagnosed with other “variable onset anomalies” feel secure and supported!
Of particular concern are two classes of fetal anomalies that cannot be detected early in a pregnancy. First are the variable-onset fetal anomalies. These anomalies begin at variable gestational ages but are often detected beyond 20 weeks. Second are the late-onset anomalies that develop late in the gestational age of the fetus, typically in the second or third trimester, or are undetectable until the abnormality is at the end-point of a pregnancy. Importantly, the 20-week bans passing across the states generally do not include exceptions for lethal fetal anomalies, meaning women are forced to carry fetuses with anomalies to term, regardless of viability.
I’m not making a simple “anti-choice” statement. We know that in nearly all cases, abortion at this stage is more dangerous for the mother than carrying to term.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, here’s the “science:”
Advocates of 20-week abortion bans generally rely on junk science based on the pseudoscience of fetal pain to warrant the state laws prohibiting third trimester abortions. Their claims stem from erroneous assertions that the fetus feels pain at 20 weeks, despite several comprehensive literature reviews demonstrating no credible evidence of fetal pain until the third trimester.
This is not how science is done. Science is not a consensus, it’s observation and reporting of data that can be reproduced. The definition “agreed” upon by pro-abortion advocates involves emotions and is nothing but a neo-scientific construct, that igores real scientific evidence of higher brain response to noxious stimuli.
The same ethics hold for abortion as for any other intentional, elective killing of a member of our species: only kill when it’s absolutely necessary to save another life endangered by the first – the life of the mother.
“Science Progress” is a branch of “Center for American Progress,” the far-left public policy organization begun by John Podesta.
Several media outlets sort of quoted my testimony against HB 2945 in the Texas State House Affairs Committee on Wednesday. However, they proved Mark Twain’s assertion that there are “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
In my testimony against HB 2945, I also pointed to the National Cancer Institute’s webpage, “Reproductive History and Breast Cancer Risk,” which outlines the protective effect of pregnancy. After all, the only women and girls receiving this information are pregnant women and girls!
Unfortunately, Representative Farrar focused on the “peer review” status of the Mabye article (“Did it go through the Medline or PubMed?”), ignoring the NCI data.
In that (yes, Jessica, it’s “peer reviewed”) New England Journal of Medicine article, the authors note that, while their study found no increased risk overall, there is a protective effect of pregnancy and an increased risk for some women: “Induced abortion had no overall effect on the risk of breast cancer, but we found a statistically significant increase in risk among women with a history of second-trimester abortion.” This was a small number of cases, but it was also in spite of the authors’ acknowledging that unknown thousands of unrecorded abortions ( those before 1973 computerization of records) were probably not accounted for.
From the Texas Tribune:
Dr. Beverly Nuckols, a family doctor from New Braunfels and board member of Texas Alliance for Life, testified against the bill. She cited a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1997 that showed pregnancy decreases the risk of breast cancer.
“No one would prescribe pregnancy to prevent breast cancer,” Nuckols said. “We’re just letting them know that if they have a risk factor in their family, this pregnancy may cut their risk of breast cancer in half.”
via House Panel Debates Changes to Booklet on Abortion | The Texas Tribune.
Austin Chronicle, “A Woman’s Right to Know the Truth”
Warning: the article is graphic.
“If I think about it for a moment, there are obviously lots of policy implications of Gosnell’s baby charnel house. How the hell did this clinic operate for seventeen years without health inspectors discovering his brutal crimes? Are there major holes in our medical regulatory system? More to the point, are those holes created, in part, by the pressure to go easy on abortion clinics, or more charitably, the fear of getting tangled in a hot-button political issue? These have clear implications for abortion access, and abortion politics.
“After all, when ostensibly neutral local regulations threaten to restrict abortion access–as with Virginia’s recent moves to require stricter regulatory standards for abortion clinics, and ultrasounds for women seeking abortions–the national media thinks that this is worthy of remark. If local governments are being too lax on abortion clinics, surely that is also worthy of note.
via Why I Didn’t Write About Gosnell’s Trial–And Why I Should Have – The Daily Beast.
6:05/8:18 Farrar: “So, so, this diagnosis is missed, they
have a fetal anomaly, the spine’s outside the body or something, you say you would not have an exception for that situation.”
Watch the video at 6:05 (See below ++) of the April 10, 2013 Texas House State Affairs Committee meeting hearing on HB 2364, by Representative Jodi Laubenberg, as State Representative Jessica Farrar challenges a practicing OB/Gyn about his belief that abortion should not be performed when babies are found to have non-lethal “anomalies” after 20 weeks post-fertilization (or 22 weeks since last period).
I wonder how of you have heard of the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell* in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? Most people, whether pro-choice or pro-life, are horrified by the way Dr. Gosnell and his staff treated the babies they delivered both alive and dead.
We also squirm at the intentional killing of children who could otherwise live.
The limit of viability for the unborn, using current medical technology, is 20 to 23 weeks gestation. There have been reports of survivors born before this time. Who will be surprised when the limit moves even farther back? What will history say about us?
In fact, here in Texas, we have made it clear with our Prenatal Protection Act of 2003, spurred on by the deaths of Lacy and Connor Peterson, that our definition of individual (or person) includes all humans from fertilization to natural death.
++ Download the free Real Player app, open the video and then pull the timeline cursor out to 6:05. More Committee and Session videos are available at the Texas Legislature Online site.
*(Gosnell is accused of killing the babies who survive, of committing abortions after the legal age limit, and of mutilating the bodies of the babies after they were dead. One gruesome account is here.)
One woman claimed that the standards shouldn’t be the same as an ambulatory surgical center because they do abortions on 9 year olds!
Minimal standards are considered too much by the abortion industry. They’ve fought every move to keep women and girls safe, and whip out those coat hangers every chance they get.
Women who have D&C’s after a miscarriage have them at a hospital or surgical center, not at in an office setting. But according to the abortionists, healthy mothers having abortions – or 9 year old girls – should be happy with a clinic setting.
AUSTIN – Abortion clinics would be required to meet stricter standards under a bill approved 5-2 by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday after emotional testimony over whether the measure would protect women’s health or risk it by causing clinics to close.
“My intent in filing this bill is only to protect Texas women who undergo this procedure,” said Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, who authored the measure with two fellow doctors, Republican Sens. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels and Charles Schwertner of Georgetown.
Planned Parenthood called the measure, Senate Bill 537, a “back-door abortion ban.”
via Senate panel OKs abortion bill requiring stricter standards – Houston Chronicle.
“1. The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus, that is, neither can be considered a ‘person’ in a morally relevant sense.
“2. It is not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her
from developing the potentiality to become a person in the
morally relevant sense.”
The British Journal of Medical Ethics continues to publish thought exercises that go against common sense and traditional medical ethics, “emphasising” (British spelling) the utilitarian world-view of today’s “medical ethics,” without the slightest acknowledgment that there might be harm in the act of arguing that not all human beings are “morally relevant persons.”
This month, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, redefine “abortion,” “euthanasia,” and “infanticide” in “After-Birth Abortion: Why should the baby live?”
In spite of the oxymoron in the expression, we propose to call this practice ‘after-birth abortion’, rather than ‘infanticide’, to emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child. Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.
The arguments don’t work other than as an example of the logical results of the utilitarian world view that has come to dominate medical ethics and to illustrate what Leon Kass called “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” or the “yuck factor.”
One of the editors, Julian Salvulescu, who believes that values and conscience lead to “a Pandora’s box of idiosyncratic, bigoted, discriminatory medicine,” defends the piece on the grounds that that the ideas are not new. Indeed, the authors discuss the history of killing babies before and after birth because of medical diagnoses such as Down’s syndrome and after birth due to suffering of the child or the lack of worth placed on the child by his or her mother. The Netherland’s “Groningen Protocol” for active euthanasia of children is mentioned as precedent for government support for their position.
We should let these “expressions” be a warning to us all in these days of increasing government involvement in healthcare. As the authors argue,
“Nonetheless, to bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”
Freedom of expression and the discussion of even such unpopular ideas do have a place in our world. However, I wonder at an “ethics” journal whose editors claim that their
“Journal does not specifically support substantive moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks, over others. It supports sound rational argument. Moreover, it supports freedom of ethical expression.”
Obviously, they do support “sound rational argument” and “freedom of ethical expression” over “moral views, ideologies, theories, dogmas or moral outlooks.”
At what point would the editors determine that “ethicists” should be censured, corrected or even retrained? Would the Journal publish a “sound rational argument” that advocates the end of “freedom of ethical expression?”
The Obama Administration has told Texas that our State is not allowed to decide who will provide medical care under Title X Family Planning and Well Woman funds. The Administration has recently ruled in a similar manner for other States. (
This in spite of the fact that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did give Texas a waiver allowing Texas to move all Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries to doctors in managed care plans. The managed care plans, along with cooperative coalitions between hospital systems and the doctors they will pay for seeing managed care patients, is consistent with the plans laid out in “Obamacare.” Evidently, so is Planned Parenthood’s survival.
CMS claims in this letter to Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission that we’re limiting the choices of the women because the State prioritized where to spend our money and who to pay for healthcare, beginning with county clinics and hospital districts, followed by doctors and clinics that provide comprehensive, continuing care. Since we only have so much money, our Legislature decided to support the most vital care givers. Even though we don’t specifically write in law that “Planned Parenthood, Inc., need not apply,” CMS doesn’t like our plan.
CMS was asked to give a “waiver” to Texas since the funding is outside normal Medicaid rules, because it funds care for adults who are not at the rock-bottom income levels. Texas also has a waiver in order to use funds for prenatal care, justified by counting the unborn child. (The pro-aborts have protested over and over that the mother, not her child, should be the one we count and that she should be allowed to use the money for any “reproductive services,” including abortion, that she wants.)
Texas Alliance for Life and Texas Right to Life have both issued statements opposing the CMS ruling.
From Joe Pojman, Ph.D., TAL’s Executive Director:
“We believe the State of Texas has every right to deny millions of tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, which is what the Texas Legislature and Governor Perry has chosen to do,” he said. “Senate Bill 7, passed last summer during a special legislative session, prohibits Medicaid tax dollars under the Women’s Health Program from going to abortion providers and their affiliated organizations.”
“This bill excludes several dozen Planned Parenthood sites from the Women’s Health Program, but it does not exclude any other hundreds of Women’s Health Program providers in Texas. Many of the other providers offer comprehensive primary and preventative care to low- income women in addition to family planning, which Planned Parenthood is unable or unwilling to provide,” he continued. “By threatening to cancel the Women’s Health Program in Texas, the Obama Administration is showing it would sooner deny tens of millions of dollars of medical services to low-income women rather than allow the State of Texas to cut off tax funding to Planned Parenthood.”
Addendum: this article from the Houston Chronicle (I quoted from it here) which implies that the ruling may go so far as to overturn our long-standing law that requires providers to sign a contract affirming that they don’t perform or refer for abortions.
“”Siri is doing exactly what it was built to do—provide answers to questions like, “Where can I get an abortion?” using its own algorithms and the online resources it has available to craft answers.
“”Consider the current kerfuffle. This is simplifying things a bit, but the gist of this story is that Siri is getting hung up on a word, “abortion,” because organizations that actually offer abortion services tend not to use the word as much as anti-abortion organizations do. So when Siri goes looking for where to get an “abortion” in the digital wordscape of the Internet, lo and behold, it returns addresses for Crisis Pregnancy Centers rather than Planned Parenthood.””
Note the pretty “terminating the pregnancy” phrase that’s used instead of aborting the baby (or even the usual term used, “fetus”).
This new test will, indeed “change the conversation about abortion.” This news story, including comments from utilitarian bioethicist, Art Caplan, Ph.D., will move the conversation much earlier into the pregnancy and remind us about the risk to healthy children in healthy mothers from tests for genetic markers. It will also stir the debate on late-appearing diseases like Alzheimer’s dementia and breast cancer.
(Who knows, we might be getting closer to tests for behavioral tendencies or even the “gay gene,” if one is ever found.)
Sequenom doesn’t indicate whether there are false positives or what the accuracy is in women who are not at “high risk” for having a Down’s Syndrome child.
The blood test is accurate in detecting Trisomy 21, the genetic chromosomal abnormality that most commonly causes Down syndrome, 99.1 percent of the time as early as 10 weeks into a pregnancy, the San Diego-based company said in a statement. The test, and others that will be able to identify genetic abnormalities early in pregnancies, will alter the debate over abortion, said Art Caplan, director of the center for bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
“For many people this test makes it morally, emotionally and psychologically easier to have an abortion,” Caplan said in an interview.
Caplan said future prenatal tests may be able to indicate if the fetus had biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease, or breast cancer, or other diseases. Those tests will raise questions about what issues will trigger potential parents to choose an abortion. A survey published last month in the American Journal of Medical Genetics showed that only 4 percent of parents with Down Syndrome children regretted having them.
“Ethically, we are now starting to see the shift in the issue of what counts as a medical disorder, what’s significant enough to test for, what’s a genetic disability or just a difference,” he said. “Many in the Down syndrome community would say it’s just a difference.”
via Sequenom to Sell Down Syndrome Test 2 Years After Pullback – Bloomberg.
Will someone tell me why it is logical for Federal Judge Sam Sparks to assume that “less-skilled providers” will be willing to meet the “onerous requirements” that more-skilled providers won’t?
” The Court has grave doubts about the wisdom of the Act, but that is no legal basis for invalidating it. The Act’s onerous requirements will surely dissuade or prevent many competent doctors from performing abortions, making it significantly more difficult for pregnant women to obtain abortions. Forcing pregnant women to receive medical treatment from less-skilled providers certainly seems to be at odds with ‘protecting the physical and psychological health and well-being of pregnant women,’ one of the Act’s stated purposes.”
I’m a doctor, not a lawyer, so I may not understand all of the words and references in the opinion, but I’m shocked that any self-respecting Federal Judge would allow such a frankly biased opinion out of his office. Perhaps Sparks doesn’t mind burning his chances of ever being appointed to another Court, and is quite happy with his life time appointment in the Federal Court at Austin.
I’m halfway through the ruling and thought I’d post some thoughts before these comments got too long.
Sparks decided that it’s not really important for the Plaintiffs to be someone actually harmed by the Law in order to have standing in his Court. He approved the class action suit filed by a New York State corporation, The Center for Reproductive Rights, who filed a class action suit on behalf of all the abortionists in Texas, supported by affidavits from three abortionists:
If R. v. W. isn’t found to be gross misconduct, this ruling should be. Sparks can’t resist a revealing his prejudice and mocking the legislature.
Citing Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 846 (1992), a US Supreme Court ruling on abortion limitations and Equal Protection, Sparks not only has to admit that the Texas law is legitimate under prior law and Court rulings, but that:
“This legitimate interest obviously justifies “singling out” abortion providers and the patients thereof, because they pose a serious potential risk to “the life of the fetus that may become a child.”’
However, he goes on to admit his prior bias:
“The Court has grave doubts about the wisdom of the Act, but that is no legal basis for invalidating it. The Act’s onerous requirements will surely dissuade or prevent many competent doctors from performing abortions, making it significantly more difficult for pregnant women to
obtain abortions. Forcing pregnant women to receive medical treatment from less-skilled providers certainly seems to be at odds with “protecting the physical and psychological health and well-being of pregnant women,” one of the Act’s stated purposes. H.B. 15, Sec. 12(1). However, rational basis review requires this Court to accept even tenuous rationales for the advancement of a legitimate government interest.
In short, if the Texas Legislature wishes to prioritize an ideological agenda (2) over the health and safety of women, the Equal Protection Clause does not prevent it from doing so under these circumstances. Accordingly, the Court must reject Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection arguments. (p. 20/55)
That footnote (2) ?
“2 It is ironic that many of the same people who zealously defend the state’s righteous duty to become intimately involved in a woman’s decision to get an abortion are also positively scandalized at the government’s gross overreaching in the area of health care.”
“(It) is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women,” Sparks wrote.
Without a conscience, what is a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist except a technician willing to follow the whims of law?
(Again, this is not sound-bite material!) I received an e-mail from the American Defense Fund concerning the lawsuit against the State of Arizona by Planned Parenthood over a law to protect those of us in medicine who have consciences.
The ruling overturned a two year old injunction that prevented quite a few limitations placed on abortion in the State, including informed consent, parental consent, and the requirement that doctors, not nurses, perform abortions as well as the conscience issue.
Over the last decade, there have been several deliberate attacks against the right of medical professionals to obey our consciences and to refuse to provide services that we do not believe are “medical care.” I’ve tried to cover them at LifeEthics.org., even though I had a hard time keeping my promise to avoid politics and religion on that blog.
The articles at LifeEthics.org include this one from the American Journal of Bioethics, this one by a lawyer writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, and this one from this year about the Obama Administration’s refusal to protect the conscience.
Here’s the update, dated August 11, 2011:
A litigation update:
The Arizona Court of Appeals issued an opinion today on conscience rights.
In a case litigated partially by the State, partially by the Speaker of the Arizona House, and partially by ADF, BDF, and CAP on behalf of a variety of pro-life medical groups (Ave Maria Pharmacy, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International, American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Catholic Medical Association) . . . . . . the Court upheld Arizona’s state conscience protection statute Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 36-2154, against a challenge by Planned Parenthood of Arizona. The Court also upheld the right of the aforementioned pro-life groups to intervene in the case to defend the conscience law.
Here is the opinion,http://azcourts.gov/Portals/89/opinionfiles/CV/CV090748.pdf and below I provide some highlights.
The conscience statute protects hospitals, physicians, and staff from being involved in abortion, and all of the above plus pharmacists and pharmacy employees from being involved in any abortive or anti-implantive drug or device. The Court of Appeals’ decision reverses an injunction that Planned Parenthood had obtained below in the Arizona trial court, which had enjoined not only conscience protections but a bunch of pro-life provisions of Arizona law (including laws about parental involvement in abortion, prohibiting non-doctors from performing them, and other pro-life measures).
PP threw the kitchen sink of anti-conscience arguments against this conscience statute, and the Court specifically addresses PP’s arguments on pages 32-37, saying some very helpful things against some of the popular “access” arguments we all hear against conscience rights. (The Court does unfortunately characterize the conscience statute as “refusal provisions.”)
Among the arguments the court smacked down are the following:
- The Court rejected PP’s argument that conscience protections violate a woman’s right to access abortion. The Court gave several reasons. First, in a previous case the Court had upheld an Arizona law prohibiting abortions at state university hospitals, saying “Even as plaintiff does not have an absolute right to an abortion on demand, she also does not have the right to select any public facility she chooses for an abortion.” By extension, therefore, the Court held that since “Even a state actor can refuse to facilitate an abortion,” it is even more true that private actors can refuse.
- In addition, the Court declared that the conscience law protecting private individuals and institutions can’t possibly violate a woman’s constitutional rights because “any reproductive rights that might exist under [the Arizona Constitution] can only be asserted against governmental acts, not the decisions of private individuals. . . . Therefore a woman’s right to an abortion or to contraception does not compel a private person or entity to facilitate either.”
- The Court further noted: “In its arguments below, PPAZ also contended the statutes would ‘thwart women’s ability to chart their own medical course.’ As explained above, whatever right a woman may have to ‘chart her own medical course,’ it cannot compel a health-care provider to provide her chosen care.”
- The Court rejected PP’s argument that the conscience law “allows medical professionals to abandon their patients, even in an emergency.” The Court pointed out that because the Arizona Constitution protects common law medical malpractice actions from being abrogated by statute, the conscience statute therefore does prevent a woman from suing any physician for denying her the standard of care, whatever that might be. A woman’s ability to impose malpractice liability therefore defeats the argument that the conscience statute allows abandonment in an emergency.
- The Court rejected PP’s argument that the conscience statute “justif[es] practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.”
- First, “no authority suggests that permitting individuals to choose whether to facilitate abortions places the peace and safety of the state at risk.”
- Second, the Arizona Constitution says that constitutional protections for conscience do not protect violations of peace and safety, but it does not prohibit the legislature from protecting conscience even more than the constitution happens to do.
- Third, the “peace and safety” limitation is merely a limit on how far judges are supposed to interpret the constitutional protections; it does not allow private citizens to sue to contend that too much conscience is being protected.
- Notably, the Court observed that the conscience statute may well protect employees of Planned Parenthood who object to involvement in abortion, but it went on to reject PP’s above arguments anyway.
Presumably PP will appeal this case to the Arizona Supreme Court, but the Court has discretionary review so it could simply deny the petition. In any event, the case will go back down to the trial court for final proceedings (to the same judge who issued the injunction), because this was just a “preliminary” decision.