Abortion proponents move fight to courts

In a major victory for the anti-abortion movement, the Texas state Senate passed a sweeping bill early Saturday that has become a flashpoint in the national abortion debate. Gov. Rick Perry is expected to sign it in short order.

But the fight is not over. Abortion rights supporters say that the new law attempts to overturn Roe vs. Wade in Texas, and that's why they plan to take their fight to the courts.

"What this does is completely reshape the abortion landscape in the state," says Elizabeth Nash, who follows state issues at the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group. "With this legislation, Texas will become one of the most restrictive states in the country. And Texas really matters."

First, Texas is the second most populous state in the nation, with four major cities and 5.5 million women of reproductive age. It also has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation.

And symbolically, Texas was home to Jane Roe, whose fight for a legal abortion went all the way to the Supreme Court — which decided in 1973 that abortion is a woman's fundamental right under the Constitution.

Under the new law, abortion doctors must get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals; abortion clinics must upgrade to surgical centers; abortion-inducing pills can only be taken when a physician is present; and abortions would be banned 20 weeks after fertilization.

All of these measures have been passed, piecemeal, in other states, where the Center for Reproductive Rights has fought them all, says Julie Rikelman, the group's litigation director.

"This law can absolutely be stopped. It is a cocktail of restrictions that have been blocked by other courts around the country," Rikelman says. "It's clearly unconstitutional and I do believe that courts will find it to be unconstitutional if it's challenged."

"Their optimism may be poorly founded in the 5th Circuit," Pojman says. "In Texas, we have had a very good track record of our abortion regulations and limits being reviewed and upheld by the 5th Circuit. I point out to you most recently our statute passed two years ago."
The woman behind the Roe decision now regrets her participation in the effort.  That is a fact inconvenient to the NPR's premise.  Currently fewer than one percent of abortions take place after the 20th week so it is not like people are losing an opportunity to terminate a pregnancy.  It is also ironic that those who claim that this is a women's health issue are working to  have lower standards applied in the case of abortion clinics.

It is also Orwellian for people working to stop reproduction to claim that they favor "reproductive rights."  That sounds like a word picked by a focus group to mask what these people really mean.


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