Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

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The United States Supreme Court today issued a ruling against Texas abortion clinic regulations that opponents said were thinly veiled attempts to make it harder for women to get an abortion. Legal analyst Marc Lamber of Fennermore Craig will discuss the ruling.

Ted Simons: Coming up next on "Arizona Horizon," a major decision on abortion from the U.S. Supreme Court. Also tonight, how local law enforcement is increasingly involved in federal immigration laws. And we'll hear about a contest to help save the Grand Canyon watchtower. Those stories next on "Arizona Horizon."

Video: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions -- thank you.

Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. In a major decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down two provisions of a Texas law regulating abortion clinics. The law requires structural upgrades to the clinics and also requires abortion doctors to hold admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. But the high court ruled on a 5-3 vote that the provisions were unconstitutional because they put an undue burden on getting a legal abortion. Writing for the majority, justice Steven Breyer said that quote, we conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon each access that each imposes. Each places -- each violates the federal Constitution. Now reaction ranged from celebration to concern.

Sara Ratcliffe: We're thrilled. We're excited. We're happy to see that the court upheld the conscience of the women across the nation and gave them the right and affirmed their right to decide for themselves what's best for their health.

Bonnie Grabenhofer: We are absolutely delighted that these politically motivated restrictions on abortion have been overturned, making it more accessible for the women in Texas and a precedent for other dates.

Lisa Stover: Women lost today. Our Supreme Court justices have a duty to protect women, protect women's health, and they did not do that today. When women going in for an abortion, they should know when it's in Texas, California, that if they're going in to a facility that hasn't been checked or regulated in five years, no one tested out, I worry about that. I'm concerned about that as a young woman. And so women deserve better than that.

Ted Simons: Here now to discuss the Supreme Court's reasoning in today's 5-3 decision and what the ruling means for abortion laws in Arizona is legal analyst Marc Lamer of Fennemore Craig. Welcome to Arizona Horizon.

Marc Lamber: Thanks Ted. Good to be here.

Ted Simons: What did the Supreme Court decide? What exactly were they looking at?

Marc Lamber: This is considered by many to be a land mark decision. This may be the largest and most significant abortion decision by the Supreme Court in the last 25 years. So at a high level the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law or two provisions within a Texas law that allegedly limited access to abortion Clinics.

Ted Simons: And basically, you had to upgrade these clinics also to mini hospitals, correct?

Marc Lamber: That's correct. So the standard, they were beefing up the standards that were applicable to apportion clinics to the point where they were looking for the same standards as a surgicenter, where you may go and get outpatient surgery.

Ted Simons: And the other provision was that the doctors have to get hospital admitting privileges. What was that all about?

Marc Lamber: So that component of the law was that the physicians who was performing the abortion at the clinic would need to have admitting privileges within a hospital within a 30-my radius of the -- 30-mile radius of the clinic.

Ted Simons: And the court -- from a distance now, the court said that's all very interesting but they seemed to focus on undue burdens on getting abortion. That was the focus of the court, correct?

Marc Lamber: Correct. So at the end of the day, the court said, a woman has a right, a constitutional right, to obtain an abortion. And -- and there can be limitations that can be imposed so long as they're reasonable and the court here determined that they were not, that they imposed an unreasonable burden on the women. And they were -- there were some statistics that were presented to the press, one of which was that 75% of the abortion clinics in Texas would need to be shut down because of the provisions within this law.

Ted Simons: Especially in rural areas --

Marc Lamber: Particularly in rural areas. So the access to abortion clinics was limited and the Supreme Court, there was a concurring opinion by Justice Ginsberg who focused on that and the health risks actually to women by not having these facilities available.

Ted Simons: And the health risk, women's health in the past, the Supreme Court has used that as a valid consideration, correct?

Marc Lamber: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: And so what it sounds as though, and again this is from a distance, that Texas -- I don't want to say gamed the system, but Texas used that avenue to try to get to restrict abortion and access and the court sounded like they weren't buying it and they weren't buying it at all.

Marc Lamber: Certainly those arguments are being made. But again, it just -- it represents the division in this country right now, because arguments on the other side are no, this is about health issues. And this is insuring that if you go to a surgicenter, you have the same level of care. And if there's a mishap or a complicated, the argument would be you want to have a doctor who can get to a hospital that is within -- within range, that's going to get there very quickly, and be able to deal with this situation.

Ted Simons: And yet, was it justice Ginsberg who said these type of requirements aren't there for giving birth to a child, so --

Marc Lamber: Yes, Ginsberg talked about with midwives and saying you can deliver a child in your home, so why would this restrictions be imposed here. Colonoscopies, and there aren't those requirements. The majority of the Supreme Court, that's what they send.

Ted Simons: Impact on Arizona, impact on Arizona laws. What are you seeing?

Marc Lamber: It's a fair question. and a significant one. The impact is broader than Arizona, first of all. And you have laws throughout the country now that are going to be implicated by this decision. In Arizona, that's no different. There are requirements in Arizona, some of which have been staid by our appellate court that made this decision. There's a 30-mile requirement with respect to physicians here as well having admitting privileges. There's going to be lawsuits that we know are going to happen. The court may be able to rule on some of these issues right now that are pending because they have an edict from the Supreme Court.

Ted Simons: Yeah. So basically, a lot of what Arizona has done could possibly be overturned. Not now, but once they're challenged.

Marc Lamber: I mean, it's possible. And remember, it's all about line drawing and so the courts here are going to have to analyze the opinion and it's a 40-page opinion.

Ted Simons: Yes.

Marc Lamber: And they're going to have to go through it very carefully and determine in terms of our laws, and there are many. It's not only the ones I mentioned. Whether they meet the standards that the Supreme Court set forth in this latest opinion.

Ted Simons: So last question, before you go, were you surprised at today's decision?

Marc Lamber: Well, not really, because based upon the oral argument, based upon information that we already knew, I thought it with a either be a 4-4 decision or a 5-3 decision. So it wasn't altogether surprising. And Kennedy has been a swing voter before when it comes to abortion-related issues.

Ted Simons: All right. Interesting stuff, and again, major ruling. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Marc Lamber: Thank you, Ted, appreciate it.
Video: Beside highway 191 near Clifton is a memorial to 1880s Arizona law and order. Then as new the Clifton Cliff jail is a two-room hole, blasted from solid rock and fitted with iron bars paid for by the owners of Clifton's first copper mine. Local tradition says the jail's first unwilling guest was the local stone Mason, hired to build it. When he finished the jail, the Mason decided to celebrate at Clifton's hobby downs hall where he downed snake head whiskey and shot up the place. The dance hall belonged to the deputy sheriff who rewarded the Mason with a stay in his own creation. In 1906 a flash flood filled the ground level Bastille with water and mud, forcing the rescues of the prisoners by rope and the jail's closure. Today it's dry. And visitors are welcome to take an an eerie step down and back into Arizona history.

Marc Lamber: Legal analyst from Fennermore Craig

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