Judges go wild over abortion!
July 28, 2012
Here is the basic principle on abortion restrictions set out by Supreme Court precedent: The state can try to talk a woman out of having an abortion, but only if it doesn’t present an “undue burden,” and only if the materials used are “truthful, nonmisleading information.” In a 7-4 ruling this week on a South Dakota restriction, the 8th Circuit Court basically threw the second principle out of the window, implying we can’t rely on the prevailing medical evidence about whether abortion causes suicide. Meanwhile, a recent hearing in the pivotal Arizona 20-week ban challenge suggests a federal judge there is inclined to similarly disregard precedent.
At issue in South Dakota is a 2005 “informed consent” law that, among other provisions being battled in separate cases, demanded that doctors tell women seeking abortions that abortion carries an “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide,” despite no one ever having proved the causation, and the repeated discrediting of studies that claim to. The judges have mostly rationalized this by saying that telling women who are planning to have an abortion that there is an “increased risk” of suicide isn’t the same as telling them that abortion causes suicide. In other words, the state is just providing a helpful FYI! Even if the correlation is simply that preexisting mental health issues correlate with unwanted pregnancies.
Presented with an American Psychological Association meta-analysis that dismissed the causal claim and found methodological flaws in the studies of correlations, alongside several studies cited by Planned Parenthood in its challenge, the majority basically threw up its hands and went postmodern on the entire notion of truth. “It is difficult to identify a solid objective basis for the criteria employed in these reviews to identify the ‘best’ studies,” they wrote. “We express no opinion as to whether some of the studies are more reliable than others; instead, we hold only that the state legislature, rather than a federal court, is in the best position to weigh the divergent results.”