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Reaction To Supreme Court Ruling Striking Down Abortion Restrictions In Texas


And the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday issued a historic defense of abortion rights. The 5 to 3 decision struck down parts of a Texas law that required clinics performing abortions to have surgical facilities and also required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Outside the court, opponents of that law celebrated.


UNIDENTIFIED DEMONSTRATORS: (Chanting) Pro-women, pro-choice. Pro-women, pro-choice. Pro-women, pro-choice.

GREENE: One person who has been closely following this debate and the Supreme Court's ruling is Marjorie Dannenfelser. She is president of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that opposes abortion. And she joins us in our studios this morning. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER: It's great to be here again.

GREENE: So listening there, we're hearing people outside the court chanting, pro-women, pro-choice. You had a different reaction to this ruling. You tweeted that the Supreme Court in this ruling is anti-woman. Just - just explain that for me, if you can.

DANNENFELSER: Well, this decision really had far less to do with - it should have had far less to do with the pure abortion right than it had to do with safety of women and protecting that within clinics. Underreported, I believe, all over the country has been clinic after clinic after clinic where there are safe and uninspected situations going on where women are giving birth accidentally and in toilets. There are unsanitary conditions that, in the words of some Planned Parenthood employees who left a Delaware clinic said, these are meat-market, assembly-line-style abortion...

GREENE: Well, I want to - I want to ask...

DANNENFELSER: ...Abortions going on. And so - I'm sorry. So this is - the pro-woman, pro-choice line that they're - that they are chanting there sounds nice, but it really is an anti-woman, anti-health-of-women stance that the - that the court inadvertently took.

GREENE: Let me ask you about the health of women, if I can, because it - Justice Stephen Breyer, I mean, he noted that nation - nationwide childbirth is a lot more likely than abortion to result in death - also that colonoscopies, a procedure that, you know, often takes place in outpatient clinics, you know, has a mortality rate 10 times higher than abortion. I mean, isn't the medical field sort of becoming settled that abortion is not nearly as big a risk as some other procedures like that, when we're talking about the health of women?

DANNENFELSER: No, not at all. And, in fact, the - the lobby to get abortion out of a - of medical situations - even into homes, where there is no oversight, no emergency care. Women are left alone to have - to undergo their own self-abortions through - through medicine.

GREENE: But those would be homes, not these clinics that we're talking about.

DANNENFELSER: No, I - yeah, but I'm just saying the overall advocacy is away from the safe and - from the safe conditions that would be in a - in a center like this. I find it ironic that - that I, of course, as an advocate against abortion would be advocating for safe abortion. And the people on the other side of this debate are - who used to be the first people advocating safe abortion, are now for undermining those standards. They should be - this should be common ground. We should be on the same side of this debate every single step of the way.

GREENE: But - but are you saying that these - these medical groups and Stephen Breyer, the justice, and others - are they wrong when they say that - that things like colonoscopies are - you know, are less-safe than abortions, that abortions are that safe these days in these types of clinics?

DANNENFELSER: They - they're absolutely wrong. And when you see what can go awry, you really understand why this needs more scrutiny and not less. The abortionists who are performing these abortions every single day across the country are not at the top of the food chain in the medical world. Frankly, they're the last people that - often that you want to be in their care. And so the irony is that, somehow, they need less scrutiny, even though clinic after clinic across the country keeps getting closed down.

Just not far from this studio, a few weeks ago, one was closed down, one of the busiest abortion clinics in the country. Again, almost no coverage. So the - when you see what can go wrong and what happens to women - death, infertility - then you ought to - one ought to be focused on how to prevent this from happening again. But I see the failure to do that is - is a sense that they're - that the institution of abortion is far more important than the health of women. And that's where we are right now.

GREENE: What do you make of the argument if someone hears the results of a case like this and they - they sort of come to the conclusion that, OK, a lot of people in the medical field believe that abortions are - are not that unsafe and that people who are part of your movement, you know, should be focusing more on sort of the broad moral argument about - about abortion and sort of going away from these - these health and safety risk arguments?

DANNENFELSER: Well, there are two things. One is, as long as it's happening, then we should all be advocating for the health of women. And we should be - and frankly, the Supreme Court is the last group of people that should be a medical board. On the other hand, our strategy will remain the same. And that is to focus on the life of the unborn child and the rights of women. So our late-term ban, or the 20-week bill, will remain a priority.

GREENE: OK, we've been speaking to Marjorie Dannenfelser. She is head of the Susan B. Anthony List. Thanks so much for coming in this morning. We appreciate it.

DANNENFELSER: Thank you always. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.