Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Last Call For The Road To Gilead

Here in Cincinnati, the last abortion clinic in southwest Ohio remains open thanks to a judge and an injunction preventing Ohio from denying licenses to clinics arbitrarily.  In Missouri, the state is down to one clinic in St. Louis, and the license for that facility expires at the end of the month.

The last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri says it expects to be shut down this week, effectively ending legal abortion in the state.

In a statement to be released later Tuesday, Planned Parenthood said Missouri's health department is "refusing to renew" its annual license to provide abortion in the state. If the license is not renewed by May 31, Missouri would become the first state without a functioning abortion clinic since 1973 when Roe v. Wade was decided.
Planned Parenthood would still be able to provide non-abortion health services for women in Missouri.

Planned Parenthood said it plans to sue the state "in order to try to keep serving Missouri women."

"This is not a drill. This is not a warning. This is a real public health crisis," said Dr. Leana Wen, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

A call and email to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services were not immediately returned.

Representatives for Planned Parenthood told CBS News that the upcoming deadline follows weeks of back-and-forth with state health officials.

On May 20, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services notified Planned Parenthood of three issues that could impact license renewal, according to documents reviewed by CBS News and provided by Planned Parenthood.

On May 22, Planned Parenthood said it would address two of them: adjusting who at the clinic provided the state-mandated counseling and adding an additional pelvic exam for abortion patients.

But it said a third request was out of its control. According to Planned Parenthood, the health department said it was investigating "deficient practices," and needed to interview seven physicians who provide care at the clinic. Planned Parenthood said it could offer interviews only with two who are its employees. The remaining physicians provide services at the facility but aren't employed by Planned Parenthood and have not agreed to be interviewed.

In its letter, the Department of Health wrote that it could not "complete our investigation until it interviews the physicians involved in the care provided in the potential deficient practices," and that "the investigation needs to be completed and any deficiencies resolved before the expiration of [the clinic's] license on May 31, 2019.

So-called "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Practices" laws or TRAP laws like this have been the favored weapon of the anti-choice, anti-women crowd for the last decade or so.  Regulating abortion clinics out of existence with impossible and arbitrary rules for operation has been stopped before by the Supreme Court in Texas and several other states, but that was before Justice Kennedy was replaced by Brett Kavanaugh.

We'll see if Planned Parenthood can prevail here, but the clock on Missouri's women is running out.
Meanwhile, we got the first decision on abortion from SCOTUS today blocking Indiana's ludicrous "selective eugenics" law.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked an Indiana law barring abortions based on a fetus' sex, race or disability, while allowing a separate state measure requiring fetal remains to be buried or cremated to take effect.

The justices declined to review a lower court's decision overturning a law restricting when and why an abortion could be performed. Vice President Mike Pence signed the measure into law in 2016 when he was Indiana governor, and it was blocked by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

That case is the latest abortion challenge the Supreme Court's new conservative majority has passed up. However, it doesn’t indicate whether the court will eventually take up a challenge to Roe v. Wade, as a spate of conservative states including Alabama, Georgia and Missouri approve laws meant to directly challenge the 1973 ruling legalizing abortion nationwide.

In an unsigned opinion, the justices wrote that the state has a "legitimate interest" in the disposal of fetal remains. They reversed the 7th Circuit decision blocking that provision, reinstating Indiana's measure without first holding a hearing.
Indiana argued the prevalence of prenatal screening has led many women to opt for abortion when fetal abnormalities like Down syndrome are detected. Supporters of abortion rights said the law was unconstitutionally intrusive, defying Supreme Court precedent protecting a woman's right for an abortion until the fetus is viable outside of the womb, generally considered to be around 24 weeks.

"A woman, not the legislature, gets to decide whether an abortion is the right decision for her and her family," said Ken Falk, legal director with the ACLU of Indiana, who represented Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky in the case.

Although Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with the court's decision to refuse the case, he wrote in a fiery concurring opinion that the justices may eventually consider the constitutionality of similar laws.
"Given the potential for abortion to become a tool of eugenic manipulation, the Court will soon need to confront the constitutionality of laws like Indiana’s. But because further percolation may assist our review of this issue of first impression, I join the Court in declining to take up the issue now," he wrote. 

Justice Thomas just posted a major signpost on the road to Gilead.  If the Supreme Court considers abortion itself to be eugenics, that would not only leave the door open to end abortion in the entire country, but to end birth control as well.

And yes, the Indiana law requiring cremation of fetal remains brings us one TRAP law closer to bankrupting clinics in the state.

Indiana's law won't be the decision that ends Roe, but it's coming.  Justice Thomas is all but promising it.

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