In an unexpected 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law Monday, saying it placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.
Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt concerned a 2013 Texas law known as House Bill 2, which required two new regulations for abortion clinics: First, abortion doctors would have to obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic; and second, clinics would need to meet specifications required to become ambulatory surgical centers.
Their objection to HB2 demonstrates that abortion advocates care more about protecting the abortion industry than protecting women. This decision proves what pro-life feminists have been saying for years: The pro-choice position is misogyny in action. Striking down this law will harm women.
As a pro-life feminist, I not only believe that women deserve equal human rights, but that women are strong and capable. The abortion industry tells women they can’t make anything of their lives without abortion. That is the opposite of empowerment.
Women were once considered property and denied basic human rights. How dare we treat our children the same way? Our liberation cannot come at their expense.
The battle cry for pro-Roe activists in the ’70s, after Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion, echoed across the country, and we all know their adage that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.” We’ve settled for one out of three. It’s legal, but often unsafe, and nowhere near rare.
I wouldn’t want to have surgery in a clinic that doesn’t meet surgical center requirements. More than 700,000 abortions occur in the United States every year. Surgical abortion is an extremely common procedure. How many women walk into these clinics knowing that standards are lower than in other surgical centers? My guess is very few.
There are extreme examples of how this harms women, such as the grisly charnel house that served as the clinic of Kermit Gosnell. But many industry whistle-blowers have spoken publicly about the low standards of cleanliness and safety they’ve witnessed in many clinics.
If abortion is really about women’s health, why has the Supreme Court struck down a law that required abortions to occur in a safe and clean environment? One specification required clinics to make sure hallways are wide enough to admit gurneys so that paramedics could reach injured women in the case of complications. Is that an “undue burden?” To make sure women have access to life-saving medical care?
Women at most clinics are told to go to the emergency room if they experience complications, making it crucial for the abortion provider to have a formal relationship with a nearby hospital. If the provider does not, the emergency room will lose precious time scrambling for information on the patient’s case, compromising her care and, potentially, her life.
What substantial objection could any women’s health advocate have to requiring doctors to obtain local admitting privileges? If you haven’t heard horror stories of women with post-abortion complications arriving at ERs, bleeding and in mortal danger, whose abortionists cannot be contacted, you haven’t been paying attention to this debate.
I agree with Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissenting claim that this decision “perpetuates the court’s habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights — especially the putative right to abortion.”
Though I have an ethical objection to most cases of abortion, I accept that women can legally choose it. My focus as a pro-life feminist is on education and empowerment. Women deserve to make an informed choice, without deception or coercion, and they deserve to know that their safety is of paramount importance.
If there is common ground to be found between pro-choice and pro-life camps, it will be found here: in a mutual concern for the safety, well-being, and dignity of women. Both sides should understand the harm — to women and to abortion access — when a woman is coerced or misled into abortion, or is unduly harmed by the procedure. Regretted abortions are bad for both sides.
Without this understanding, the pro-life community proves the oft-heard objection that they are fetus-worshipers who care nothing for women, and pro-choice activists prove that abortion has become sacrosanct, their commitment to it trumping all other concerns — including women’s health.
The court’s decision should alarm and dismay abortion’s opponents and its proponents as well.
Kristen Hatten is the vice president of New Wave Feminists, an anti-abortion group founded in North Texas.
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