By Rebecca Fiedler
Baylor students and Waco residents alike have strongly differing opinions about Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling concerning Texas abortion laws. Some celebrate the national and local effects of the upholding of Texas abortion restrictions, while others look ahead in anticipation of the progression of a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood opposing the restrictions.
Last month U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down a provision of Texas House Bill 2 requiring physicians to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of a hospital.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned Yeakel’s decision, ruling that the provision can still take effect while the lawsuit concerning its constitutionality progresses. Planned Parenthood and affiliates then appealed to the Supreme Court, which voted 5-4 to reject the appeal. The 5th Circuit is expected to hear arguments over the law’s constitutionality in January.
Bushland senior Trenton Garza volunteers with Planned Parenthood and was previously president of Texas College Democrats. Garza said he was surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Garza said he believes the restriction in the law that’s being reviewed does, in fact, place an undue burden on women, and said admitting privileges are not medically necessary.
Garza said he thinks a better line of logic for the court system would have been to be to agree to overturn the provisions of the law Yeakel struck down until constitutionality is determined.
“Now that this law is going to be in place, the focus now should turn to the hearings in January and the 5th Circuit Court,” Garza said. “I suspect, just based on the typical means of the 5th Circuit Court, that they will probably uphold the law. There are other precedents elsewhere in the U.S. where they have turned down those laws, and at that point, you have a division among federal courts, and that’s just a recipe for the Supreme Court ranking it for review and it be acquitted on their docket.”
John Pisciotta, director of anti-abortion activist group Pro-Life Waco, said if the law is declared constitutional by the 5th Circuit Court, then he suspects Planned Parenthood will make an appeal for the Supreme Court to determine the law’s constitutionality.
“If the Supreme Court takes the case, which is by no means automatic, then the court would be making the determination [of constitutionality], hearing both sides and weeks or even months would pass before the decision would be finally handed down,” Pisciotta said.
Pisciotta said he is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I really am not at all surprised about it, because these courts in a lot of ways hesitate, unless they’re really pressed to it, to overturn a lower court,” Pisciotta said.
Lombard, Ill., junior Danny Huizinga, president of the Baylor College Republicans, also agrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“To override the appeals court they have to show that the appeals court clearly erred,” he said.
Pisciotta said he is not completely confident that the Supreme Court would declare the law constitutional in the end, as they may disagree with the District Court of Appeals.
Huizinga said he believes it’s possible the constitutionality of the law will be challenged at the Supreme Court level.
“I know a lot of other states have already passed similar laws before we had,” he said.
Huizinga does not see the admitting privileges provision of the law to place undue burden on women, and believes that the law’s makers had women’s best interests in mind.
“If something goes wrong you want that person to be able to go to the hospital,” he said.
Pisciotta is pleased with the results of the Supreme Court’s decision on a local basis, he said. Pro-Life Waco is planning to have a party on Dec. 14 to celebrate the ruling.
“The local implications are that late in October, Planned Parenthood in Waco finally admitted that they had shut down their abortion facility, at least temporarily,” he said.
If Planned Parenthood’s Waco abortion clinic reopens one day, Pisciotta said he believes there will be many months before that happens because of legal processes.
“It’s a victory,” he said. “It weighs heavy on my heart and mind that in the past right here in our own city there has been the shedding of innocent blood, so, boy, to have that not be the reality is certainly a victory; at least temporarily, and I think likely permanently.”
Planned Parenthood announced in a press release that this provision of the law has already placed undue burden on women.
“Approximately one-third of the state’s licensed health centers that were providing abortion were forced to stop providing that care immediately,” the press release states. “When asked what she will do if she cannot access a safe and legal abortion in Texas, it was reported one woman in Harlingen said, ‘I think I will have to go through with the pregnancy. I don’t have the finances to travel’ to San Antonio.”
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, released a statement in Planned Parenthood’s press release.
“While we are deeply disappointed, this isn’t over,” his statement said. “We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women.”
The Associated Press contributed information to this article.