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Local reactions to Supreme Court ruling on Texas abortion law mixed

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The ripple effects of the Supreme Court's ruling about Texas abortion laws were being felt here in Western New York on Monday.

The Supreme Court's ruling Monday that struck down two key elements of the Lone Star State's abortion legislation drew the expected cheers from pro-choice supporters and reactions of disappointment by anti-abortion advocates.

Among the provisions rejected by the high court was a requirement that abortion clinics be held to the same health and safety standards as ambulatory clinics. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of the conservative organization New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, suggests there's an irony in rejecting that provision.

"Today's Supreme Court ruling kind of reconfirms that abortion has become that defining aspect of women's rights," he said. "So much so, that women seeking an abortion no longer have the right to the most basic level of care. That kind of care should be provided to women. It seems ludicrous to us that the court would not recognize that."

But Lucinda Finley, the Frank Raichle Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo, says while ambulatory clinics are held to rules that take working with general anesthesia in mind, abortion clinics do not do that. She also suggested that the high court found previous rules in Texas, made tougher by 2013 legislation, were acceptable.

"The Texas law said that an abortion clinic physician had to have a working arrangement with a hospital to accept any patients with a serious complication," she said. "The Supreme Court noted today that the evidence showed that that had worked just fine."

The Supreme Court vote was five to three. The assumed vote by the late justice Antonin Scalia, had he not passed away and vacated the seat, would not have changed the outcome of Monday's decision.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's pro-choice stance is well known. The presumptive Republican candidate, Donald Trump, has previously suggested adapting the GOP platform to allow abortions in cases of rape, incest and threat to the mother's life. But he has also publicly blasted Planned Parenthood and public funding for abortions along the campaign trail. 

Finley was asked about the possible future of the court following November's presidential election, and whether Monday's ruling may already hint at its direction.

"Even if Mr. Trump becomes president and gets to fill Mr. Scalia's seat, that wouldn't necessarily make a difference, based on today's decision," said Finley.

McGuire, on the other hand, says modern technology including 3D and 4D imaging are helping change attitudes about abortion. As he suggests, more people - including Donald Trump - are rethinking their positions as they recognize what's inside the womb.

"He, like many others, are seeing grandchildren, seeing that 'window to the womb' himself. His position is changing," McGuire said. "There are some comments he's making that are not fully cognizant of the issue. But I trust as he evolves and understands the perspective of those of us in the pro-life community, his talking points and messaging will become better and better on this issue."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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