Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Brief Comment on Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt

I'm not really very exercised about the ruling, but I've commented briefly on it a few times in a few places, and my most recent comment was lengthy and detailed enough to serve as a blog post. So hey, why not? The comment in its original is at spiked, where David Nolan (no, not that David Nolan unless the resurrection occurred without me noticing) calls the ruling "A Victory for Abortion Rights." Here it is:

"The Texas law ... would have closed several abortion clinics and forced thousands of women to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion services."

No, the Texas law would have held abortion clinics to the same "unnecessary and burdensome health-and-safety standards" as other clinics that perform medical procedures which aren't abortion. Whether or not those clinics closed instead of meeting those standards would have been up to them.

Even if the standards really are "unnecessary and burdensome" -- and they very well may be -- why is it OK to apply them to places where patients get rhinoplasty or hernia repair or polyps removed from colons, etc., exempting one and only one procedure? What makes abortion special?

I generally favor abortion being legal, but this double standard bothers me. "Abortion is just a medical procedure like any other." Except that clinics performing it are exempt from safety standards required for other procedures. And except that if my teenager gets a vaccination, or stitches, or a cast on a broken arm, my informed consent as a parent is required, but if she gets one and only one kind of surgery, the whole thing can take place without me even knowing about it.

The effect of the ruling may be good -- but if so, why not extend the ruling to other clinics as well? Answer: This ruling wasn't about medicine or safety, it was about judicially mandating a special exemption from regulation for an industry with a powerful political lobby.

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