Planned Parenthood messed with Texas and lost, for now

Cathy Cleaver Ruse Senior Fellow, Family Research Council
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently ruled against Planned Parenthood’s challenge to a Texas abortion law, overturning the ruling of a lower court judge just days before.

The appellate court reinstated a provision of the Texas law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice. While it is only a temporary ruling, pending a full trial in 2014, it is good news for women in Texas.

Most abortion providers in Texas already have admitting privileges. Making the others come into line is a matter of good medical practice and simple common sense.

Without admitting privileges, an abortion provider must try to deal with any medical complications a woman might suffer on his own in a clinic not equipped for the task, or send her off in an ambulance to be dumped at the hospital ER as if she were a victim of a hit-and-run. No medical history, no provider input or follow-up. Tragically, the practice is common enough that pro-life groups have begun documenting the ambulance trips with photographs.

Leave it to Planned Parenthood to say that it’s a bad idea to staff their clinics with good doctors who have relationships with local hospitals. The fact is, aborting a baby is not an insignificant endeavor, and sometimes things go wrong.

Last year Tonya Reaves died from a botched abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago. She bled to death. In 2002 Diana Lopez died from a botched abortion in a Los Angeles Planned Parenthood clinic. She bled to death too. The facts of these cases are disputed by the abortion lobby, but nobody denies that these young ladies went into Planned Parenthood clinics alive, and came out dead. Holly Patterson went into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Hayward, California in 2003 and died a week later from a severe bacterial infection caused by an incomplete abortion.

Hospital admitting privileges make sense. When pro-choice people are talking to each other, they admit it. One abortion advocacy site says: “It of course would be great if all abortion providers can have admitting privileges. We need some regulation because we don’t want unsafe conditions.”

But when talking to the public, the hospital provision is just more evidence of the Republican War on Women. How so? Because it will force the closure of clinics that provide contraception. This is not a serious argument. The Guttmacher Institute, founded by Planned Parenthood, admits that there are 180 Title X federally-funded family planning centers in Texas which provide contraception to a quarter of a million women annually. But more than that, the state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program offers women free contraception through over 3,500 providers. If, as is claimed, one-third of the abortion clinics will close for failure to comply with the hospital admittance provision, Texas women will still have a wide range of options for free or subsidized contraception in Texas.

Only ideologues say the Texas law is about contraception. And they don’t even believe it. They know and everyone knows this is about abortion.

The centerpiece of the Texas law is the ban on late-term abortions.

It was over this ban that the abortion lobby sent truckloads of people to the Texas State Capitol to shout down the legislature until the clock ran out. It was this ban that inspired activists to smuggle into the chamber jars of urine and feces.

But Planned Parenthood did not file a legal challenge against the abortion ban. Why?

Challenging a statute in a court of law is different than complaining about it on MSNBC. In court, the actual text of the law is closely scrutinized by all parties, by the judge, and even by the media following the trial.

What you will find in the text of the law is that it is really not a ban, but a restriction. It prohibits the elective abortion of babies after 20 weeks. The law does not ban a late-term abortion if it is required to save the mother’s life. It does not ban a late-term abortion if it is required to prevent the mother from suffering serious physical health impairments. It does not ban the late-term abortion of a child with a severe abnormality. It is, by any fair review, a modest restriction.

The true parameters of the Texas law never made it into the public debate, but they would have been front and center in a court of law. Not only would Planned Parenthood’s abortion extremism be exposed, but the nation’s largest abortion provider would run the risk of inviting a new legal precedent that frustrates its all-or-nothing abortion ideology.

Is it possible to reach common ground on abortion when one side admits no compromise? More common sense, modest laws like the one in Texas are sure to follow. Opportunities for common ground will be ripe.

Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. is a senior legal fellow at the Family Research Council.