Supreme Court Nixes Buffers, But Texas Abortion Clinics Are Mostly Closing Anyway
They, um, kind of did.
Photo by Francisco Montes
In the middle of the big Wendy Davis filibuster last year, it must have been tempting to think that something big was happening, that real change was afoot, or at least there was a chance the antiabortion law would be stopped.
Well, that was cute. It's been a year now, as of this week, and nothing much has happened except Davis isn't turning out to be quite the political superstar some thought she'd be, and most of the abortion clinics in Texas will be closed come September.
Yep, despite all the enthusiastic wearing of orange outfits and hot pink running shoes, House Bill 2 still ultimately passed, was upheld in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and will be fully implemented on September 1. Since there are only six ambulatory abortion clinics in Texas as of right now, most expect there will only be six clinics to serve the women of Texas when that day comes.
Of course, a lot of the clinics have already closed. Of the 44 clinics operating in 2011, about half have closed. This is one thing if you're a woman located in, say, Houston, but for women who live in the parts of Texas that aren't close to big cities, they'll have to drive for hours to get to a clinic where they can legally have an abortion. Heck, there won't even be a clinic west of San Antonio. None. Nada. Niente.
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This all makes Thursday's Supreme Court ruling funny in a funny-because-there's-nothing-to-do-but-laugh way. The case, McCullen v. Coakley, looked at the question of the "buffer zone" that some states have put in place to prevent protestors (or persuaders or yellers or whatever you want to call the people who hold signs and don't want you to get that abortion) from getting too close to the people who are in need of these clinics.
The Supremes ruled unanimously that the 35-foot buffer required by Massachusetts law was unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment. It was a narrow ruling, as SCOTUSblog notes, so the states that want to make sure people can actually get to these clinics will have to get focused in their legislation.
Luckily, that's just not an issue here in the Lone Star State. Heck, in a few months we'll barely have any clinics for the protestors to bother protesting against. Plus we don't have any of those pesky buffer-zone laws in Texas. If a woman wants to exercise the right to make her own choices about her own body, she'll have to take her chances with the protestors first, by golly.