North Texas Daily

The legal fight to protect reproductive rights

The legal fight to protect reproductive rights

The legal fight to protect reproductive rights
February 07
12:51 2017

Gabriela Macias | Staff Writer

Last year’s death of Justice Antonin Scalia left a vacancy in the Supreme Court, and has once again opened a war of ideas within the judicial branch. At the center of this issue is the fight and protection of reproductive rights.

Texas is no stranger to the court. Last summer, it confronted one of the most important rulings since Roe v. Wade in a case that would determine the access and protection of safe and legal abortions for the state’s women and possibly affect the entire nation.

The case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruled in favor of women’s rights, stating that “restrictions on legal abortion cannot impose burdens on a woman’s right to access care without providing any legitimate medical benefit.” The decision happened on June 27, 2016.

Although the court was clear in its decision, it has not stopped Texas organizations from attempting to limit women’s access to safe abortions and medical care.

A case filed in December 2016 went a step further by making a mandate that would force women to endure the “burial and cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that would result from abortions, miscarriages and ectopic pregnancy surgery – regardless of the woman’s personal wishes or beliefs.”

Presented by the Texas Department of State Health Services, the rule would impose an extreme financial burden on women. Also, medical entities would be required to work with third parties in the organization of burials or cremation services.

The new rule did not go unchallenged. The DSHS was sued by the Center of Reproductive Rights, who stated that the rule is in direct violation of the Supreme Court ruling from June.

In late January, the Court had its order to strike down any new regulations that clearly go against the Health v. Hellerstedt ruling. The order cited the vagueness of the language used in the amendments from the DSHS and the lacking of any presentation of health benefits. Furthermore, it said that the evidence presented may be a “pretext to restrict abortion,” which is currently unconstitutional.

Cases like these are the latest being fought by reproductive rights activists, and Texas has been at the epicenter of it all.

The vacancy in the Supreme Court has only fueled the debate and serves as ammunition by all political parties to energize their base, despite the uncertainty of the future. However, pro-choice advocates know that the fight for reproductive rights has never been easy and will continue. With the faith of Roe v. Wade hanging by a thread, organization and a clear strategy might be the correct solutions to secure the outcome.

The one thing we can take away from these rulings, aside from the clear necessity to defend and protect women’s rights, is the importance of an independent judicial branch, one that does not act along party guidelines, but protects the integrity of our constitution without outside ideological influences.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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