He was also found guilty on 21 felony counts of performing illegal abortions and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law. “I thought an underlying theme, or at least an underlying factual demonstration, is that this law has really increased the number of surgical procedures as opposed to medical procedures, and that this might not be medically wise“. Orders are often issued with no explanation, although sometimes dissenting justices make clear the essence of their disagreement with the majority.
Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion lobby protested outside the Court today, loudly insisting that the case is about women’s health.
The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia less than three weeks ago left the Supreme Court with only eight justices and opened the way for a 4-4 tie in the case, which many consider the most important abortion case in a generation.
The abortion providers also challenged provisions in the law, not yet in effect, that require clinics to possess costly, hospital-grade facilities with standards for corridor width, plumbing, parking spaces, room size, the spacing of beds and many other factors.
Candace Russell says the law has created such long waits at clinics, she had to fly to California to get her abortion.
If the case is sent back to the lower courts, the justices might not see it for another year or two, at which point the significance of Kennedy’s vote will have changed once again. Some supporters camped outside the high court Tuesday night, while others arrived early in the morning by bus, from states like North Carolina and Georgia, and cities like Philadelphia and Cleveland.
The court’s liberal women, meanwhile, killed it. More research would determine whether abortion clinics are actually closing because of the new regulations, as well as whether the clinics that would remain could realistically attend to the needs of the state’s women. They questioned whether abortion rights advocates had shown that the new regulations had indeed shut down many clinics and would leave women with limited options.
Alito added, “Well, there is very little specific evidence in the record in this case with respect to why any particular clinic was closed”. They believe the extra expense to implement the safety standards will cause abortion clinics to close.
Kennedy joined in that questioning and that was when he wondered whether lower courts should take a closer look.
Since the Republican-backed regulations was passed in 2013, many abortion clinics in Texas have closed. Justice Elena Kagan quipped, “It’s like a perfectly controlled experiment”. Justice Thomas, who recently made news after he broke a ten year silence to ask a question during a different case, said nothing.
US Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, was forceful in his turn before the court. But Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller said the regulations were meant to benefit women by making abortion safer. “And it does all of that on the basis of a medical justification that can not withstand any meaningful scrutiny”.
Wednesday’s case focuses on a part of the law that has yet to go into effect requiring abortion clinics in Texas to have hospital-grade facilities – a requirement that would require costly upgrades at many providers’ offices.