The Anti-Choice Group That Pushed HB2 For A Very Misguided Reason Isn't Going To Stop
On Monday, the controversial (and now unconstitutional) Texas omnibus abortion bill HB2 was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-3 ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. The case challenged the 2013 Texas law HB2, which required that abortion clinics meet the same standards as an "ambulatory surgical center" and that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, thereby limiting access to abortion across the Lone Star State. This historic ruling is considered the most significant Supreme Court decision regarding abortion in 20 years, and anti-abortion groups are not happy that HB2 was defeated.
Texans for Life Coalition is one of the groups that championed HB2 over the past few years. The organization has released a statement describing its dissatisfaction with the ruling, calling the decision "devastating to the many women who have suffered at the hands of substandard abortion doctors and clinics — and the many more to come." Though this type of thinking assumes that anyone knows the wishes of every woman, what's most frightening is that groups like these believe they are doing women a favor. They truly believe that inhibiting a woman's ability to make an autonomous decision will help them.
Texans for Life championed the movement for forcing abortion providers to have hospital-admitting privileges, which they claim a pro-choice woman inspired after a bad abortion experience. The statement explains, "At her urging, we investigated only to learn her abortion doctor had his hospital admitting privileges revoked for cause. Other doctors had noticed his egregious neglect of patients and responded by revoking his privileges and then taking the extra step of notifying the Texas Medical Board. Only then did the medical board sanction and fine the doctor."
The 5th Circuit had upheld HB2 up until it reached the Supreme Court for the same reasons. They, like Texans for Life, honestly and mistakenly feel they were aiding the movement for women's health with this TRAP law.
For this reason, Texans for Life is a group to watch in the future — especially as anti-choice legislation is still so active. Abortion procedures should absolutely operate as safely as possible. One of the major issues with HB2, however, is that restricting women's access to these providers — which offer reproductive services aside from abortion — by limiting the number of clinics in operation is actually counterproductive in promoting safety. Regulating the clinics through certification programs for clinicians and enforcing health standards is a more effective way to promote abortion safety.
Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, once said, "Women seeking abortion deserve better." Yes, they do, and they deserve better than a flawed bill like HB2.
On the other side of the spectrum, pro-choice warrior Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg provided a concurrence that illuminated the greater threats to women's health posed by laws such as HB2. She wrote, "The Texas law called H. B. 2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services. ... When a state severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners ... at great risk to their health and safety." As long as bills like this continue to arise, anti-abortion groups will support them, and as long as these groups exist, these bills will arise.
There is a real difference between understanding what is helpful to women and the visceral, emotion-based, misleading rhetoric of those who erroneously believe they are helping. This is why SCOTUS is the only force with the power to make these calls, and this is why groups who threaten the safety and bodily autonomy of others should be carefully monitored.