Judge to Wisconsin Lawmakers: Stop Being Dicks About Abortion

Agree or disagree with Judge Richard Posner on an issue, it's easy to distill his approach to jurisprudence to a simple message to the party he rules against: "You're being dicks. Stop being dicks." And when you're on his side, as with his evisceration of homophobes on same-sex marriage, it is the kind of breathtaking that is usually reserved for the entrance of Magic Mike. So it is in his opinion yesterday in a 2-1 appeals court ruling overturning Wisconsin's ludicrous anti-choice law that requires doctors at clinics that perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

From the get-go, Posner demonstrates just how dickish the law was in its concept: "Although signed into law on a Friday (July 5, 2013), Wisconsin’s statute required compliance—the possession, by every doctor who performs abortions, of admitting privileges at a hospital within a 30-mile radius of each clinic at which the doctor performs abortions—by the following Sunday (July 7, 2013). There was no way an abortion doctor, or any other type of doctor for that matter, could obtain admitting privileges so quickly, and there wouldn’t have been a way even if the two days hadn’t been weekend days. As the district court found, it takes a minimum of one to three months to obtain admitting privileges and often much longer."

In other words, by design, the statute targeted clinics for near-immediate end of abortion services, even as, Posner explains again and again, access to them is still a fucking constitutional right. From Posner: "Until and unless Roe v. Wade is overruled by the Supreme Court, a statute likely to restrict access to abortion with no offsetting medical benefit cannot be held to be within the enacting state’s constitutional authority."

Even on the issue of whether or not it's necessary for a doctor to have admitting privileges in order to help women who have complications after an abortion, Posner takes it apart: "One doctor with extensive experience in obstetrics and gynecology told about a case in which a woman with a complication from an abortion might, he thought, have avoided a hysterectomy if her abortion doctor had called the hospital or had had admitting privileges. That is the only evidence in the record that any woman whose abortion resulted in a medical complication has ever, anywhere in the United States, been made worse off by being handed over by her abortion doctor to a gynecologist, or other specialist with relevant expertise, employed by the hospital to which she’s taken. And the example doesn’t actually have anything to do with admitting privileges. The abortion doctor didn’t need admitting privileges at a hospital in order to call an ambulance to take his patient to the nearest hospital, or to communicate with the treating doctor at the hospital—neither of which he did." And that's all the evidence the state of Wisconsin had.

Yeah, you should use that quote around the Thanksgiving table when that relative, you know, that one, brings up abortion to a mostly uncomfortable silence. If you live in Wisconsin, you can add, "And Scott Walker can suck my giblets."

Read the whole thing. It's just a series of amazing, quotable passages where Posner says, repeatedly, "Goddamn, you are such dicks." He covers the expense of travel and lodging for poor women to get to distant clinics (the cost of which, as he says, the state isn't willing to pick up) and the fact that limiting first trimester abortions leads to many more second trimester abortions, where complications are more frequent (although still incredibly infrequent).

One last quote here, so good you can touch yourself as you read it like the best erotic fiction: "Opponents of abortion reveal their true objectives when they procure legislation limited to a medical procedure—abortion—that rarely produces a medical emergency. A number of other medical procedures are far more dangerous to the patient than abortion, yet their providers are not required to obtain admitting privileges anywhere, let alone within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed."

Short version? "Hey, dicks, go fuck yourselves."