Big news today out of the U.S. Supreme Court: As the Washington Post reports, the court -- in a 5-3 decision -- struck down Texas abortion restrictions that had caused more than half the state's abortion clinics to close.
As always, abortion is one of those topics that mix politics and religion, no matter how hard people try to keep the topics separate.
The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.
One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
How important is this decision? The Daily Beast is pretty excited:
Meanwhile, Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher of the American Conservative is less enthused (see his new post "Abortion Forever"), but he, too, attaches great significance to the ruling:
The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.
So what should news consumers look for in the media coverage of this crucial decision?
The key -- as always -- is that there are two sides to the story: One side focuses on "restrictions on abortion" -- and that side, obviously, won the court battle. The other side argues that the Texas law enacted common medical safety standards to abortion that apply to other outpatient procedures. For many voices on this side, the question is why this procedure for women does not have the same safety procedures and regulations as much less invasive procedures for men. Yes, there are female pro-life voices out there who see this Supreme Court decision as being a blow AGAINST health care for women:
Will news stories seek out articulate voices on both sides of this story and treat them with respect? I know that's an old GetReligion theme, but that's a journalism basic -- as I argued the other day.
The early Post story includes reaction from the abortion-rights side:
Abortion rights advocates hailed the decision. Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which led the litigation on behalf of the Texas clinics said: “Today women across the nation have had their constitutional rights vindicated. The Supreme Court sent a loud and clear message that politicians cannot use deceptive means to shut down abortion clinics.”
But there's no quote from those on the side of defending life, even though advocates such as Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, immediately issued statements:
"It is shameful to see a majority of the Supreme Court sacrificing public health and safety to prop up the abortion industry in Texas. If this case were about anything other than abortion, this law would have been upheld. Indeed, it would never have been challenged. Only the abortion industry balks at adhering to the same standards considered routine by legitimate health care providers."
Of course, we've repeatedly highlighted the slanted (read: pro-choice) media coverage on the abortion debate.
In Texas itself, Dallas Morning News readers woke up this morning to a front-page abortion story previewing the expected high court decision.
Guess how many pro-life sources the once-great Dallas newspaper managed to quote?