Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes From The Whole Women's Health Ruling Are Everything We Could Have Hoped For
Nearly four months after hearing the monumental Whole Women's Health vs. Hellerstedt case, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided to knock down Texas' abortion restrictions. The case against Texas' H.B.2 law, which significantly restricts access to abortion clinics in the state, has been deemed the most important case since 1992's Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Of the current eight Supreme Court justices, supporters of reproductive rights had big hopes for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's sway. And with a history of women's rights advocacy behind her, her concurring opinion didn't disappoint.
When the case was brought to court on March 2, Ginsburg was joined by fellow female justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in questioning whether Texas' abortion restriction were actually implemented with the intention of protecting a woman's health. During the 85-minute-long session, Ginsburg saw the weakness in Texas solicitor general Scott Keller's defense of the restrictive law and attacked it with no hesitancy. Keller suggested that if the abortion clinics outside of large cities are forced to close, Texas women could seek out an abortion in New Mexico. Ginsburg was not having it.
That's odd that you point to the New Mexico facility. If your argument is right, then New Mexico is not an available way out for Texas, because Texas says to protect our women, we need these things.
In other words, if the state was truly concerned about women's health, it wouldn't be necessary to drive to another state to seek an abortion. And unlike Texas, New Mexico didn't place surgical restrictions on abortion clinics. A similar scenario arose just moments later when Ginsburg continued pressing questions that delegitimized the presumed logic of the state's decision.
What is the benefit of the medical, the two pills that you take, what is the benefit of having an ambulatory surgical center to take two pills when there's ... no surgical procedure at all involved?
Opponents of the law had been wondering the same thing. Finally, their voices were heard as Ginsburg expressed pure exasperation towards the fact that women had to receive abortion pills inside of a surgical center because of possible "complications."
If it is a complication, it is not going to occur on the spot. I mean, you have to concede that in in the case of the medical abortion, the complication generally arises after the woman is back at home. And then the nearest hospital has nothing to do with the surgical center.
Ginsburg went on to question whether there was "legitimate interest" in protecting women's health. After all, abortions are fairly low risk procedures, especially compared to child birth. Keller dared to disagree, suggesting there was research to back his claim that abortion was just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than child birth. Ginsburg literally laughed. Keller, a man who has never had to give birth, sounded ridiculous.
Is there really any dispute that childbirth ... is a much riskier procedure than an early stage abortion?
Ginsburg has exercised that same fiery zeal for decades. In 1993, Senator Hank Brown asked her whether men and women shared equal rights on the topic of abortion. She responded that a woman's choice comes first:
I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman's equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex. The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.
In 2007's Gonzales vs. Carhart, Ginsburg's vote was a minority in the courthouse, which ultimately upheld a ban on partial-birth abortions. In a dissent of the ruling opinion, Ginsburg wrote:
It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Now, however, the court has sided with her unwavering opinion in the new 5-3 ruling that will go down in history as a victory for supporters of reproductive rights.