But the law seemed to be on the pro-life side of this issue. After all, Roe vs. Wade expressly said that before the age of “viability” abortion should be regulated by the state’s legislatures. In this case, Texas did just that. And they didn’t really even over-reach. Their legislation was specifically tailored after Supreme Court precedent, designed to close Gosnell-like facilities, targeted abortions before the age of viability, and backed by medical testimony.
This week the US Supreme Court struck down Texas’ attempts to regulate abortions by ensuring that the “surgical centers” that preformed them met the same regulations as every other surgery center in the state. The court said that this would be an “undo burden” on women, because “common sense” says that most abortion clinics fail to meet medical standards.
The ruling was shocking for a number of reasons. First, this case was completely backwards from the court’s previous abortion cases. In this case, it was the pro-life side that was advocating for women’s protections. In previous attempts to regulate abortion, the pro-abortion side of the argument made appeals to “back-alley abortions” and showed how eliminating abortion facilities would drive women to the “back alley” where they would be harmed.
Then came Kermit Gosnell, the serial killer who operated an abortion clinic as his cover. He killed not only babies in the womb, but also babies that were accidentally delivered alive, as well as a mother. Despite his “house of horrors” (the DA’s phrase), he was allowed to continue murdering people because there were no laws against having an abortuary soaked with cat urine, stained with blood, and filled with disease. In fact, while he was convicted of murder, Gosnell was actually first arrested for giving bogus prescriptions for pain killers.
In response, many states passed laws to make this kind of “back alley” facility illegal. At first, these laws even had the support of some “pro-choice” leaders. After all, weren’t they committed to getting rid of sub-standard care for women? But in the months that passed, it soon became evident that most abortion centers had more in common with the back-alley than with the surgery centers where every other kind of medical procedure is done.
For example, when the Texas law passed, Planned Parenthood openly said that the law would close most abortion centers in Texas. It turns out, they are not run by reputable doctors, and they have no ability to provide adequate medical care.
The result was an awkward shift: you had the pro-life people advocating for closing these back-alley facilities, and the “pro-choice” crowd lobbying for them to stay open.