Wednesday, September 03, 2014
Judge deGravelle Slams the Gavel on Clinic Law in Texas, Louisiana

Judge deGravelle Slams the Gavel on Clinic Law in Texas, Louisiana

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.

The only thing abortion groups wanted on Labor Day was to keep women out of the labor room. And over the weekend, a few unelected judges were happy to help. A day after Planned Parenthood's "abortion vigil," judges in two states tried to answer those prayers by putting the brakes on common sense clinic laws. While most people were loading their cars for the long weekend, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel decided to help drive the agenda of the pro-abortion crowd by temporarily blocking Texas's new rules for abortion facilities.

In his 21-page opinion, Yeakel complains that asking clinics to put safety first by upgrading their equipment and facilities was too burdensome. "These substantial obstacles have reached a tipping point," Yeakel ruled, halting a law that could have put as many as 14 clinics out of business.

Essentially, the legislature had passed an order, as part of HB 2, requiring that abortion clinics meet surgical center standards (which, if they truly cared about women, would have already been met). The goal was simple: to protect more women from a Kermit Gosnell-type clinic, where safety is secondary to profit. Things like wider hallways for gurneys or modern operating rooms are logical precautions, especially since most facilities aren't equipped to handle the emergencies that took the lives of Karnamaya Mongar, Jennifer Morbelli, Tonya Reaves, and others.

For an industry supposedly predicated on "women's health," you'd think the clinics would be supportive. Think again. The abortion industry flew into action, raising an army to try with unelected judges what it couldn't do with the people's representatives -- kill these clinic laws. Now, with pro-life successes sweeping the nation, the Left's only hope to maintain their liberal grip on the culture is in the courts. And so far, they've done a fine job exploiting it.

On Sunday, just two days after Yeakel's overreach, the urge to freeze pro-life laws must have been contagious, because U.S. District Judge John deGravelles lowered the boom on Louisiana's, stopping the measure just hours before it was set to take effect. Like Texas's, the Pelican State's proposal (which, interestingly enough, was sponsored by a Democrat), passed overwhelmingly in the legislature. This law complemented an earlier law that I had authored on standards for abortion clinics by requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic in case of complications.

For various reasons -- not the least of which is the hospitals' reluctance to issue them -- most physicians have trouble getting this kind of access. Three of the state's abortion clinics sued to stop the requirement, which had the potential to shut all five down. Unlike Yeakel, Judge deGravelles allowed the law to take effect -- but barred any clinic or doctor from being punished while they try to meet the criteria. Still, it was a disappointing development, especially when one man can overrule a statewide consensus for stronger safeguards.

But the courts shouldn't be the final word on the matter. All too often state legislators walk away when the courts strike down their laws. What they need to understand is that the courts aren't the final authority on these issues. In the truest sense, these activist judges need to be challenged. Never before has there been such a wave of pro-life enthusiasm from coast to coast. The Bloomberg Report crunched the numbers and estimates that 58 clinics have closed in 24 states just because of laws like these.

Even the Left sees the writing on the wall. "This kind of change is incredibly dramatic," said a Guttmacher Institute spokeswoman. "What we've been seeing since 1982 was a slow decline, but this kind of change... (is) so different from what's happened in the past."

Now is the time to put the responsibility for this "war on women" where it belongs: on the abortion industry and the jaded judges who do their bidding.

Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council.


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