As expected, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Texas law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. That ruling means the new law will go back into effect today and will effectively prevent the full range of services from being provided at one third of Texas reproductive healthcare clinics.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has long been expected to be the battleground for various civil rights issues. Abortion has been a central litmus test for judges appointed to the court. The ruling of the court shows a troubling affinity with anti-choice strategies that leave Roe vs. Wade intact, but make abortion inaccessible until the law can be challenged at the Supreme Court.
The anti-choice strategy of harassing clinics while waiting to overturn Roe has been incredibly successful. In addition to banning abortions after 20 weeks and making abortions much more expensive, the new law puts pressure on hospitals to distance themselves for abortion providers or face the same kind of protests, vandalism and vilification that has had a withering effect on abortion clinics for decades.
A central question at stake in the struggle for reproductive rights is whether women are persons in the constitutional sense of belonging to themselves. Do women have inalienable rights that cannot be put up for a vote, or are their bodies a kind of community property? If a woman’s most personal decisions are to be determined by political and judicial means, then she has been ruled incapable of moral agency.
The only two options now left for Texas women are solidarity or servitude. It is an historic time of crisis in the battleground state of Texas. No one should serve over the women of Texas who denies their right to constitutional personhood. Either Texas women unite to drive misogynists out of the Texas Legislature once and for all, or they will face a future defined by the very men who are insulting and assaulting them at every turn.