The Supreme Court order you may have missed

The Supreme Court’s rulings two weeks ago on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality have had a profound and immediate effect on Americans. But so has the Court’s less-discussed order to delay the implementation of a Texas law that would have effectively shut down all but ten Texas abortion clinics, leaving nearly one million women at least 150 miles away from their closest abortion clinic.

Map of 60-mile radius access limits around Texas abortion clinics, under the suspended law. (Credit: @MetricMaps / Wikimedia)

Map of 60-mile radius access limits around remaining Texas abortion clinics, under the suspended law, versus female population density. (Credit: @MetricMaps / Wikimedia)

The Texas law in question initially grabbed the nation’s attention thanks to a pair of pink sneakers and State Senator Wendy Davis, whose passionate filibuster lasted long enough to avoid the passage of the bill…for the day. Despite Senator Davis’s efforts, the bill passed in July 2013, as part of a second special session, by a margin of 19-11.

The first part of the bill took effect 90 days after it’s passage; it prohibited abortions after 20 weeks and required all doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  The Supreme Court’s order delays implementation of the second part of the bill, which requires all abortion clinics to meet the standards of an “ambulatory surgical center” – a set of stringent regulations on staffing, equipment, and the building itself.

Fund Texas Choice notes that 14 of Texas 36 abortion clinics closed due to the provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and only 10 clinics currently meet the standard of an ambulatory surgical center.

Some Texas lawmakers insist that these changes are designed to protect women’s health, while opponents have deemed it a thinly veiled effort to restrict a woman’s right to choose in the Lone Star State.

Abortion is an extremely safe medical procedure.  A recent study in Obstetrics and Gynecology notes that women are 14 times more likely to die during or after childbirth than from abortion.  In fact, in 2010, only 1 in 625 women who received in abortion at Planned Parenthood required an emergency room visit or blood transfusion.  Still, Texas is one of 24 states that the Guttmacher Institute reports has regulations that go beyond what is medically necessary for patient safety.

The Supreme Court order is only temporary, however, and will expire if the Court decides not to hear the case during their 2015 season.

It is still unclear if the Court will hear this case, but if they do, a woman’s right to choose is sure to be in the crosshairs of the 2016 presidential election, and rightfully so: the problem is a lot bigger than Texas, as the other 23 states with similarly restrictive laws proves.

Despite the fact that half of Americans identified as pro-choice in a May 2015 Gallup Poll, states across the country continue to enact abortion restrictions in record numbers.  During the years of 2011-2014, states passed 231 restrictions on abortions, limiting access to safe abortions from sea to shining sea.  To put that in perspective, 189 restrictions had been passed in the ten years previous.

The increasingly stringent regulations on abortion access make it clear that women need a champion to protect the rights afforded to them by the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.  That champion may come from the Supreme Court, or we may need to change the tide of state politicians.

This Texas law and the drastic effect it has on the number of abortion clinics in the state calls into focus the severity of medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion and the reality that they effectively limit access to safe abortions for many American women.

Wendy Davis team attacks opponent’s wheelchair

There have been a lot of things to criticize the campaign team of Texas Democratic governor nominee Wendy Davis for. It hasn’t been well run. But perhaps the most egregious so far was the recent decision to run an attack ad against her Republican opponent that focuses on his disability (wheelchair-bound partial paralysis from an accident).

Don’t get me wrong: Attorney General Greg Abbott is awful. And he is indeed probably justifiably labeled a hypocrite (see below). But calling politicians hypocrites isn’t that effective in general, because most people kind of assume it anyway, and this is bound to make her look far worse than it does him.

The ad argues that Abbott successfully sued for his 1984 injury, but later as a Texas Supreme Court justice and state attorney general opposed similar efforts from other people suing hospitals and corporations.

“Abbott argued a woman whose leg was amputated was not disabled because she had an artificial limb,” the narrator says. “He ruled against a rape victim who sued a corporation for failing to do a background check on a sexual predator. He sided with a hospital that failed to stop a dangerous surgeon who paralyzed patients.”

Here’s the the thing: Those actions are terrible, but emphasizing his own disability and criticizing him explicitly for being a heartless hypocrite wasn’t necessary to make that point. He’s been campaigning all year with ads talking about and featuring his disability. Given that many of Abbott’s own ads mentioned or showed his wheelchair, she could just have pointed out his shameful positions without also explicitly bringing up the wheelchair and suggesting he’s a hypocrite. People could figure that out on their own because they already know the other half, without it being brought up explicitly, and without empty wheelchair images.

Therefore, this seems like a really bad move, even if the criticisms raised are warranted. Instead of the focus being on how horrible his record is, the focus is on how nasty the Davis campaign’s TV ads are. Already, most of the past long weekend was taken up debating whether or not it was out of bounds, and she keeps defending it. I don’t really see the point.

May 27, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 85

Topics are net neutrality, Idaho, US political reform, Afghanistan withdrawal. People: Bill and Sarah.

Discussion Points:

– Why does net neutrality matter?
– Should the Democratic Party in states like Idaho and Texas focus on candidate recruitment or party building? Should Congress have smaller House districts?
– What will happen to Afghanistan after the U.S. pulls troops out by 2016?

Part 1 – Net Neutrality:
Part 1 – Net Neutrality – AFD 85
Part 2 – US Political Reform:
Part 2 – US Political Reform – AFD 85
Part 3 – Afghanistan:
Part 2 – Afghanistan – AFD 85

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

– AFD: The loss of net neutrality will change everything (here’s why)
– NYT: FCC: New Net Neutrality Rules
– NYT Editorial: Creating a Two-Speed Internet
– Mother Jones: The Idaho GOP Gubernatorial Debate Was Total Chaos
– Reuters: Obama plans to end U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan by 2016
– AFD: France announces indefinite Sahel deployment


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

Back on the Air! AFD Ep 48 – June Recap

Latest Episode:
“AFD Ep 48 – June Recap”
Posted: Tues, 02 July 2013

In the first episode of the summer at the new studio, my new co-host, Persephone, joins me to discuss the Voting Rights Act decision, the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, Wendy Davis, Obama’s climate speech, and Syria. This online version of the episode includes a much longer debate on the Syria problem.