The United States Supreme Court has struck down a Texas law because it led to a dramatic reduction in abortion facilities in the state.
Supreme court judges voted 5 to 3 to overturn the law, which required abortionists to be endorsed by a nearby hospital and abortion facilities to meet the same health standards as hospitals.
Abortion advocates were angered by the closure of around 20 practices in Texas – half of all clinics in the state.
Immediately after the ruling, similar legislation was ruled out in Mississippi and Wisconsin and the Attorney General of Alabama announced he would drop an appeal to bring in a similar law there.
Pro-abortion campaigners claim that several other states with pro-life laws will be affected.
But in his dissenting opinion, Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas said the ruling was so ‘muddy’, there is very little consensus on what impact it will actually have.
Thomas criticised some of his fellow judges for bending over backwards to accommodate abortion and overriding the United States Constitution in the process.
He wrote: “The court has simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution”.
As the Court applies whatever standard it likes to any given case, nothing but empty words separates our constitutional decisions from judicial fiatJudge Clarence Thomas
The ruling claims that an “undue-burden” was placed on women by the Texas law, but Thomas said his fellow judges applied the “undue burden standard in a way that will surely mystify lower courts for years to come”.
“As the Court applies whatever standard it likes to any given case, nothing but empty words separates our constitutional decisions from judicial fiat”, he added.
Responding to the news pro-life organisation Family Research Council (FRC) pointed out that the Texas law protected the health of women.
A statement on FRC’s website highlighted that “26,500 women experienced abortion-related complications in 2011 alone (3,200 of whom required post-abortion hospitalization)”.
The group also cited the case of Dr Kermit Gosnell, who performed thousands of abortions in the last three decades at a clinic in Pennsylvania, dubbed a “house of horrors”.
Gosnell routinely carried out illegal late-term abortions (post-24 weeks), and would deliver babies alive then use scissors to ‘snip’ their spines.
The unborn child does not show up in any way as being – even to any extent – morally importantDr Albert Mohler
President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Dr Albert Mohler reflected: “Abortion is now, according to the United States Supreme Court, not only a constitutional right but a constitutional right that may not be infringed upon”.
“The modern project to declare absolute human autonomy”, he added, “has developed an idolatry of that very human autonomy that is not only unsustainable but downright deadly”.
He also noted that in practically all the coverage of the ruling, the issue was “singularly the woman. The unborn child does not show up in any way as being – even to any extent – morally important”.