The decision by five members of the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to throw out a "common-sense" abortion law in Texas, adopted for the safety of women sparked an explosion of fury and frustration at the high court's special treatment of abortion.
One of the dissenting justices, Samuel Alito, shared the concern, asserting the court's "patent refusal to apply well-established law in a neutral way is indefensible and will undermine public confidence in the court as a fair and neutral arbiter."
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Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of the law, bluntly accused the court of bias.
"It is disappointing that a majority of the court voted to reject these safety standards – disappointing but not necessarily surprising since the majority once again relied on the 'abortion distortion' factor in reaching its conclusion," Sekulow said. "This decision underscores the bias applied to the issue of abortion."
The court's 5-3 decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt struck Texas' 2013 law requiring abortion businesses to meet state standards for ambulatory surgical centers and ensure abortionists have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals in case of emergencies.
Sekulow continued: "Sadly, the majority embraced the false narrative of the pro-abortion industry – that childbirth is more dangerous to a woman than getting an abortion. The assertion is not only inaccurate, it is patently false. And it's troubling that the majority bought into this false narrative."
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Sekulow's comments were just one among a chorus.
Others pointed out the obvious bias on display in the ruling from justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Anthony Kennedy.
"The justices who have chosen to strike down Texas’s law reveal their extreme pro-abortion bias, going so far as to reject the established authority of states to enact laws to ensure the safety of their own citizens," said Lila Rose, president of Live Action. "Just as it did with its unjust decision in Roe v. Wade, the court has once again refused to recognize the basic human rights of the preborn child or the grave indignity that abortion does to women."
She said the result will be "nightmares – from filthy, unsanitary equipment to women’s deaths – [that] will continue at abortion facilities that remain virtually unregulated."
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"While no woman or preborn child is safe in an abortion facility, it ought to raise huge red flags that the abortion industry – while claiming the banner of 'women's health' – is willing to compromise women's safety by refusing to meet the same basic health and safety standards that most medical centers do," she said.
"As Justice Alito wrote in his dissent, Kermit Gosnell's abortion house of horrors would have been closed down, and a woman's and three infants' lives would have been saved if these laws were in place in his state. It's tragic and unjust that the Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge that abortion is a violent and brutal act against women and a horrific human rights abuse against children, stripping children of their first human right, which is life."
'Filth and exploitation will continue'
Majorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, agreed.
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"The abortion industry cannot be trusted to regulate itself and they know it. That's why they fought tooth and nail against common sense health and safety standards and requirements for abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. We have documented page after page of incidents of abuse, negligence, and brutality since 2008. This decision means the filth and exploitation will continue unchecked."
She pointed to possible impact of the 2016 president election.
"The stakes for the 2016 election could not be higher. The next president will be tasked with selecting Justice Antonin Scalia's replacement and up to three others. We must elect a pro-life president and safeguard today's pro-life majorities in the House and Senate. Only with a pro-life Congress and White House can we begin to address the havoc wrought by the Supreme Court on America’s unborn children and their mothers."
Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said the opinion is.
"They expect us to believe their opinion is based on the Constitution? It certainly is not. This is a sad day and another dark chapter in the history of America. Women should not be relegated to substandard facilities in order to save abortion providers a few dollars," he said.
'Muddled abortion jurisprudence'
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., a registered nurse and member of the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, said the justices have just "endangered the safety of women who may seek an abortion and have ensured that more innocent, unborn lives will be lost in the process."
And Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the ruling "only further complicates the court's already muddled abortion jurisprudence and inhibits states' legitimate efforts to protect the lives and health of women and children."
Steven Aden of the Alliance Defending Freedom said: "Abortionists shouldn't be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled against a law so clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal. The law's requirements were common sense protections that ensured the maximum amount of protection for women, who deserve to have their well-being treated by government as a higher priority than the bottom line of abortionists. Any abortion facilities that don't meet basic health and safety standards are not facilities that anyone should want to remain open."
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said that when abortion facilities "are exempt from meeting safety standards, conditions and practices deteriorate and women are placed in jeopardy."
"We saw that truth played out during the murder trial of Pennsylvania abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who killed Karnamaya Mongar and Semika Shaw during sloppy abortions at a squalid 'House of Horrors,'" he said.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said: "When abortion facilities are not held to the same standards as other facilities, women's lives are endangered. In 2011 alone, 26,500 women experienced abortion-related complications, and close to 3,200 women required post-abortion hospitalization. Hair and nail salons, public pools, restaurants, and tanning centers must meet basic health and safety standards – shouldn't abortion facilities? Abortion facilities cannot be exempt from following basic health standards.
Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America added: "Women lost today. Every time a woman seeks an abortion, she will wonder if the facility is clean. She will wonder if the abortionist has the necessary credentials to local hospitals in case of emergency. She will wonder if she is going into a facility like Kermit Gosnell's, which had been compared to a disgusting gas station bathroom with blood on both the floor and medical instruments. It is the within the rights of the states, indeed, it is the duties of the states, to protect its citizens from predatory businesses, which is exactly what the abortion industry is. They prey on the vulnerabilities of women who are in desperate situations, placing their bottom line over the health and safety of the patients. And the U.S. Supreme Court, in efforts to put the so-called 'right to abortion' above everything else, just let them get away with it."
Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the Christian Medical Association, had a harsh criticism.
"Given the shocking revelations of abysmal health and safety deficiencies in abortion clinics around the country, the court's disallowance of health and safety requirements just protects what amount to back-alley abortions.
"Texas had the courage to require medically appropriate measures to protect women in abortion clinics, where state investigations had uncovered gross negligence and health hazards. The Supreme Court today upended those reasonable, medically necessary safety and health protections in favor of abortion ideology."
CMA Executive Vice President Dr. Gene Rudd, an obstetrician-gynecologist, added: "Surgical and drug-induced abortion carry significant risks to the mother that require timely care and continuity of care. The way to ensure adequate care when abortion complications occur is to require that the physician who performed the procedure that resulted in the complication be able to assure rapid treatment of the patient. That needs to be done in a medical facility properly equipped to care for these types of surgical emergencies."
'A complete fabrication'
Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America said: "This decision represents a great setback for woman's health and safety. For that is what this case was about, not abortion. Women's health and safety are a top priority for the thousands of women I represent at Concerned Women for America, and they fought hard to enact this basic commonsense legislation. The Supreme Court dishonors that commitment today by imposing its policy preferences over the women of Texas. It is simply a complete fabrication to say that the Constitution somehow demands that these laws be struck down."
But Vicki Saporta of National Abortion Federation praised the decision and called for any other regulations on abortion to be removed.
"There is more work to be done. While this decision will help with the barriers in Texas and gives a solid precedent to strike down similar laws in other states as unconstitutional, there are still many politically motivated, medically unnecessary barriers to accessing abortion care throughout the U.S. Waiting periods requiring multiple medically unnecessary trips to the clinic, funding bans that prevent public and private health insurance from covering abortion care, and ideological laws banning safe methods are still being used by politicians to insert themselves between women and their health care providers," she said.
She was joined by President Obama, who said, "As the brief filed by the solicitor general makes clear and as the court affirmed today, these restrictions harm women's health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman's reproductive freedom."
The dissent in the court was clear.
Justice Clarence Thomas said the decision simply confirmed liberals' "tendency 'to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.'"
"But the court employs a different approach to rights that it favors," he wrote. "This case shows why the court never should have bent the rules for favored rights in the first place. Our law is now so riddled with special exceptions for special rights that our decisions deliver neither predictability nor the promise of a judiciary bound by the rule of law.
Justice Samuel Alito said the majority was so "determined to strike down two provisions of a new Texas abortion statute … the court simply disregards basic rules that apply in all other cases."
'Last shreds of legitimacy'
The dissenters pointed out that the case was brought by third parties – not those whose rights may have been affected – a practice that normally is forbidden in federal court cases.
They also noted that substantially the same arguments had been made before – and rejected –another practice that normally is banned in federal courts.
"The court has been especially forgiving of third-party standing criteria for one particular category of cases: those involving the purported substantive due process right of a woman to abort her unborn child," Thomas wrote. "Here too, the court does not question whether doctors and clinics should be allowed to sue on behalf of Texas women seeking abortions as a matter of course. They should not."
He warned of the implications of the ruling.
"Unless the court abides by one set of rules to adjudicate constitutional rights, it will continue reducing constitutional law to policy driven value judgments until the last shreds of its legitimacy disappear," he said.