Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take that, Rick Perry

I'm glad that the Federal judge declared parts of the new Texas anti-abortion law unconstitutional. It's a relief that he did this in time to prevent so many clinics getting closed down in the state. I mean, of course the case is going to be appealed, and it could go up to the Supreme Court, but for now it's good to have a victory and for Texas women to still have access not only to abortions but also just basic health services at Planned Parenthood clinics. That's what the idiot Republicans like Rick Perry refuse to acknowledge, that it's not just about late-term abortions; it's about access to the early-term abortions as well as basic women's health. Jackasses.

I like that the judge ruled quite clearly that there was no "rational basis" for the new requirement for abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals. It doesn't make the patients safer, and many hospitals refuse to grant admitting privileges either because they're religious-affiliated or because they're cowards about the controversy. It's not because the abortion doctors are incompetent or that the patients will get better emergency room care should something go wrong and they get sent to the hospitals. Hospitals will treat them regardless of whether their doctors have admitting privileges.

However the commentary about the "medication abortion" part of the ruling is a little confusing. I read a couple of news articles that sounded contradictory about that part of Judge Yeakel's ruling. So I'm glad I got to read a copy of the ruling here. Of course, I'm not a lawyer and had to skim through the parts I didn't understand, but basically he explains how the FDA protocol for the drug combination is more stringent than the "off label" protocol. The FDA protocol was approved many years ago and requires that the patient visit the doctor three times, whereas the off-label protocol requires only two visits, and allows the woman to take the second drug at home. It's not only more convenient and less expensive, but it's safe and has become standard medical practice. The FDA protocol just has never been updated with the new medical standards.

Judge Yeakel's ruling acknowledges that the off-label protocol is medically sound and less burdensome on the patient, but he says that the new law is not enough of a burden for him to strike down that part of the law altogether. He says that if the doctor is restricted from following the "off-label" protocol on medication abortion, then the woman can have a surgical abortion instead. However Yeakel acknowledges that for some women the surgical abortion would be too risky for her health and/or life, so in that case the doctor can do the off-label version of the medication abortion. So it's sort of a mixed bag there, but I guess the ruling couldn't be perfect.

We'll have to wait and see how this case goes when it's appealed to higher courts. In the meantime, Texas women still have access to all their clinics. Thanks to Planned Parenthood for bringing the lawsuit.

No comments: