Texas abortion ruling a major blow to the religious right

Texas abortion ruling a major blow to the religious right

A decision by the US Supreme Court to strike down Texas’s anti-abortion law has angered the state’s godly Republican Governor Greg Abbot, above.

Abbott condemned the decision by arguing that it jeopardises the state’s objective:

To protect innocent life. The decision erodes State’s lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost. The Texas goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.

In admitting that the law, HB 2, was meant to limit abortions, Abbott deviated from the state’s initial justification for HB 2, as presented during the case’s oral arguments.

Attorneys for the state noted that the law was implemented in order to “protect women’s health” and improve safety at abortion clinics. When pressed by the justices, they insisted that in Texas:

Abortion is legal and accessible.

HB 2 imposes obstacles on abortion clinics by requiring that they invest in expensive building upgrades to meet the more stringent standards of ambulatory surgical centers, or mini-hospitals. It also mandates that abortion doctors obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Since the law’s passage in 2013, the number of abortion providers in the state has plummeted from 42 to 19.

Pro-choice supporters pictured outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo AP/Eric Gay.

Pro-choice supporters pictured outside the Supreme Court yesterday. Photo AP/Eric Gay.

In Monday’s ruling, the Court affirmed that the law presents “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion” and “an undue burden on abortion access.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a concurring opinion eviscerating the state’s argument that the law was passed to protect women’s health.

It is beyond rational belief that HB 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions. When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners … at great risk to their health and safety.

Read more on the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, and the Supreme Court’s ruling here.

Writing for Salon, Amanda Marcotte said:

This decision will likely have ramifications for the entire religious right, and not just the anti-choice movement. After all, just a year ago, the Supreme Court also handed religious conservatives another resounding defeat, by legalising same-sex marriage.

And this is all happening in an atmosphere where the religious right’s grip over the Republican party is visibly declining, as evidenced by the rise of Donald Trump, a man who has clearly never cracked open a Bible.

And she poo-poohed James C Dobson’s claim that Trump was now a “born-again” Christian.

Few are fooled. The false displays of piety, the Bible-clutching talk about family values? All of it is falling away as conservatives turn away from pretending their politics are about any kind of ‘morality’, preferring instead to wallow openly in nationalism and the politics of resentment.

Which, of course, is what the religious right was always about as well. After all, their political efforts –chipping away at gay rights and reproductive rights – are naked attempts to punish other people that they resent for making sexual choices the right does not approve of.

But they always tried to wrap their resentment and hate in a veneer of Christian love, but the veil is falling away. And this Supreme Court decision is making it harder than ever for the right to cling to religion as the pretense for the politics of resentment.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

14 responses to “Texas abortion ruling a major blow to the religious right”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    I saw an excellent photo on this yeterday with a woman holding a banner aloft which read ‘Keep your rosaries off my ovaries’. Well, it made me chuckle.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    Abortion has been illegal in all circumstances in Iran since their descent into a Muslim theocracy in 1979. If less access to abortion is a problem then no access is a worse problem.

    Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran. If not being able to force all bakers to make a same sex wedding cake is a problem, being handcuffed and thrown off a building is a worse problem.

    But the left in the United States has lost the ability to act on the worst problems, in part because the left abandoned its atheism. Religion is a personal preference to the left today, when it used to be a central enemy. And so the left will clutch its pearls and gasp at ‘the religious right’ but never once so much as say an unkind word about Muslims. That would be “racist” (what race are Muslims again?).

    Then again, ‘the religious right’ harms nearly no one while Muslims kill their critics daily. So it might be simply self preservation to oppose the straw man and not the murderers.

    Atheism is not of the left, nor the right (just ask Ayn Rand or Karl Marx). But it is the left that is the weaker friend to a secular world.

  3. Cali Ron says:

    Trevor Blake: “But the left in the United States has lost the ability to act on the worst problems, in part because the left abandoned its atheism.” First, what problems are you alluding to? I’m not sure if the “radical Muslim” problem in the UK is as bad as the leave supporters think, but in America it’s not much of an issue or are you referring to the global problem?. We have no so called “no go zones” or roving bands of raping youths, most Muslims here are middle class and not interested in messing up their comfortable life style. The majority of the poor and disaffected Muslim immigrants find it very difficult to get a visa for the US. We’re only taking 2,000 refugees from Syria and it takes 1 to 2 years to be vetted and granted entry. About 95% of terrorists attacks in the US are by non Muslims, mostly by the religious right you claim “harms nearly no one”. The last 2 Muslim attacks were by native born Americans and are the exception to the rule here.

    America has been traditionally 85% christian and the political left has always been dominated by Christians, just mostly not evangelicals. Atheism is growing, but lags behind England in numbers sufficient enough to be the majority of any political block. You can’t abandon what you never had.

    I have a lot of respect for your opinions Trevor, but have to disagree that in America the left is the weaker friend to the secular world. The right is dominated by conservative christians who hate atheists, continually try to insert religion into our supposedly secular government and educational system. Almost every atheist I know is a liberal or left leaning and support religious and personal freedom. It’s the left who are the drivers and supporters of LBGT and women’s rights.

    I have learned from this site that the political left and right are very different in England than in America.

  4. L.Long says:

    WOW!! I am so sad now that the bigoted ahole xtians and other religious dimwits can no longer act so bigoted against women and their vaginas!!!!

  5. David Anderson says:

    Why Iran? There are many other countries in the world that deny women the right of abortion and not all of them Islamic. I think that Tevor Blake must have been reading Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima”, there are other places in the world where people are worse off than you, so STFU”

    “…the religious right harms nearly on one…” Well it doesn’t if you are a straight, white, God fearing (gun loving also helps if you are American) man.

    Also the ” what race are Muslims again”? Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere you will know that when it comes to prejudice racist can include an ethnic group, bloodline, stock, lineage, stirps, ancestry and parentage. Would anybody deny that Trumps remarks about Mexicans was anything other than racist?

  6. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: I think you might have a different outlook if you were woman living in Northern Ireland, which was definitely not a Muslim country the last time that I looked; and discriminating against gay people in respect to baking cakes, accommodation, employment, marriage, etc, and throwing them from tall buildings are part of the SAME problem, not a different one. The actions differ only in degree.

  7. Stephen Mynett says:

    It is not long ago that an Indian lady, possibly a dentist, died in a Northern Ireland hospital. The foetus she was carrying was on the point of death and she needed to have it aborted for her own health but the hospital refused on the grounds it was a live baby, despite the fact it had a zero chance of survival.
    We also have evangelists demonstrating outside abortion clinics and generally getting involved with things that are none of their business.
    I agree with Barriejohn, there may be more murders from Islamic terrorists at the moment but the underlying problem is Abrahamic religion, there are certainly Christian groups that would welcome a repressive theocracy if they had the chance.

  8. Vanity Unfair says:

    To Stephen Mynett:
    Are you thinking of Savita Halappanavar?
    If so, the case was in Ireland, not NI, in October, 2012.
    This is one of the few topics on which both Irelands agree; women are incompetent to judge their own health.
    This, along with other cases in which the ECtHR found Irish law to be lacking led to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 that liberalised abortion legislation in Ireland somewhat. There are objections from both sides. It is summarised at Usual Wikipedia precautions apply.

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    Barriejohn: you and I agree that ‘discriminating against gay people in respect to baking cakes, accommodation, employment, marriage, etc, and throwing them from tall buildings are part of the SAME problem, not a different one. The actions differ only in degree.’

    Twelve eggs is the same as one dozen eggs. Twelve thousand eggs are not the same as one dozen eggs, although they are all ‘the same’ (eggs). I think the difference between ‘I will not sell you a cake’ and ‘I put you in a cage and set you on fire to burn alive’ is so very, very large that to focus on the former and not the latter is morally corrupt. All things are connected but all things are not interchangeable.

    My opposition to religion is ongoing and deep. Every little bit of it is worthy of contempt. But please let’s stop people from being murdered first, then worry about their cakes.

    I stated clearly I spoke of the United States. I know other countries are different.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Hemant has posted this tonight:

    Another god-botherer poking his nose in where it is most definitely not wanted!

  11. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: I think we have to strike blows where we can, and support ALL those who are oppressed by superstitious claptrap. I actually think that it’s morally corrupt to ignore one evil because we don’t consider it to be as serious as another. That’s letting down some victims very badly. What’s the point of kicking up a stink against ISIS atrocities if we appear to be condoning discrimination in our own back yard?

  12. John the Drunkard says:

    The U.S. Xtian Right has tended to go ‘stealth’ in recent years. So we get ‘Creation Science,’ instead of the Bible as biology text. And when that gets trashed in the courts, they come up with ‘Intelligent Design,’ which has been exposed as well.

    The Texas Guv may have some ‘splaining to do with his base, now that he let the ‘punishing women’ cat out of the ‘concern for health’ bag.

  13. Cali Ron says:

    Texas, leading the race against intelligence, tolerance and women’s rights in Murica.

  14. Laura Roberts says:

    This is a much-needed piece of good news. America seems like the UK’s smart and sane cousin for a change. Until Trump opens his mouth…

    I concur with CaliRon that the American Muslims I’ve met are a lot like lapsed Catholics: they go through the motions but focus on community and potlucks (really tasty potlucks, I should add). Those I’ve met in the UK are a mixed bag — academics are more like my American Muslim friends, but I’ve met a few rude examples with entitlement attitudes who seem to want to play the “race” card at the earliest opportunity (no, I’m not glaring at you because I’m racist; I’m glaring because you’re disturbing everyone around you by talking loudly on your mobile).