It was Ralph Waldo Emerson that wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” The U.S. Supreme Court proved itself, if not ethical at least consistent, in its recent 5-3 decision to strike down a Texas abortion law aimed at promoting women’s health. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained that the provisions had been part of an effort to improve minimum safety standards. Justice Stephen Breyer, in the majority opinion, stated that the provisions within the law did not offer sufficient benefits for justifying the “undue burden” affecting women’s access to abortion. In short, the safety provisions were considered obstacles to abortion on-demand.
The court’s decision, of course, creates a logical fallacy. “Reproductive rights” and access to abortion on-demand is supposedly about women’s health. Now, the Supreme Court has placed accessibility over and above health and safety standards. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, however, found no logical contradiction here. She expressed her approval of the high court’s decision and stated, “This fight isn’t over! The next president has to protect women’s health.” President Obama went one step further, stating mysteriously (or illogically) that the safety standards in the Texas law would “harm women’s health.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, in the court’s minority report, quoted late Justice Anton Scalia, who lamented the court’s tendency “to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.” He was right, of course, but at least they are consistent.