Opponents of abortion in Texas received good news on Thursday, as a federal appeals court decided to uphold a state law that places tough restrictions on abortion based on the fact that the rules will not put women’s health at risk. The legislation in question has forced 20 clinics to close down all across the state. Judges on the panel for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the law was not unconstitutional, overturning a decision made by a lower court judge. After the judge made the initial ruling, the appeals court decided to allow the law to go into effect while considering the case. There is a high likelihood that the controversial case will end up being heard at the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future.
The Texas law requires doctors who provide abortion services to have admitting privileges with local hospitals, as well as limiting physicians when prescribing medications known to induce abortions. These are the two big provisions that are part of the current case, while many other restrictions, which will begin sometime this year, were not being considered.
Planned Parenthood, an organization that is pro-choice, says the law is terrible and prevents women in Texas from having access to safe and legalized abortion services. President of Planned Parenthood, Cecil Richards, stated that this legislation will force women to have abortions performed later on in the pregnancy and will make it difficult to gain access to a physician.
The debate on the Texas abortion law, which is now being upheld by the federal appeals court, has drawn passionate crowds of protesters who stand on both sides of the issue. The topic of abortion is, at this time, the most controversial issue facing the nation, and at its core is a philosophical discussion about when life begins and when that life’s personal liberties and natural rights should be enforced. It is a moral issue, one that unfortunately, cannot be settled at the cultural level alone, unlike same-sex marriage or drug legalization.
Without playing too much into the emotional, moral, philosophical, or religious argument for being for or against abortion, the matter in Texas is actually fairly simple to resolve. This again, like many issues, is something that should be handled at the state level, without any interference from the federal government. The Constitution, more specifically, the Tenth Amendment, does not give the federal government any power to overrule the Texas abortion law, or any state abortion law. This is not a power delegated to the government, nor is it one that the Constitution clearly forbids the states to exercise, therefore, how Texas decides to handle abortion is completely up to them. The people have elected their state representatives, who have now acted on their behalf to put these restrictions in place. It is, in essence, a done deal.
There are two ways that abortion can be dealt with in conjunction with cultural and educational outreach. The first is to lobby for a nationwide ban on abortion on the grounds that life begins at conception and therefore, abortion is the murder of a human being and a denial of their guaranteed right to life. The other way is to pressure the federal government to obey the Tenth Amendment, not interfere with states rights, and push for campaigns at the state level to have abortion made illegal. While many religious and pro-life organizations are pushing toward getting a federal ban placed on abortion, it is extremely difficult to get something of this magnitude pushed through a Progressive, centralized government like the one in America. The best solution seems to be to push for making abortions illegal at the state level, and working toward reducing the federal government’s reach into the self-government of Texas and other states.
The issue of abortion is a tough one culturally, but if one looks at the legality of things from a constitutional perspective, it becomes clear that this is a matter to be handled at the state level, which is precisely what has happened in Texas. There is no need for the law to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Constitution has already made it plain that Texas can create any type of abortion law it desires, and it does not require the permission of an appeals court or the nanny-state government to do so.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell