by Mary Tuma
"Predicting the future is hard," Haynes said. "Addressing the past is far more straightforward."Their indifference may be no surprise to close observers of the notoriously conservative Fifth Circuit. In the recent past, Jones has ruled unfavorably to reproductive rights— in 2012, she voted to maintain the state's pre-abortion ultrasound law, even describing it as helpful to women. She's also previously alluded to her support for overturning Roe v Wade: "In sum, if courts were to delve into the facts underlying Roe’s balancing scheme with present-day knowledge, they might conclude that the woman’s “choice” is far more risky and less beneficial, and the child’s sentience far more advanced, than the Roe Court knew," Jones wrote in a 2004 opinion (prompted by historic plaintiff Norma McCorvey 'Jane Roe' who has since changed her mind about abortion.) She went on to write, "One may fervently hope that the Court will someday acknowledge such developments [on fetal 'viability' etc.] and re-evaluate Roe [...] accordingly." Having already given us a preview of how they'll likely rule back in October, George W. Bush appointees Justices Jennifer Elrod and Haynes make a second appearance in the continuing case. Joined by an anti-abortion advocate, the three judge panel reversed a federal judge’s ruling that deemed a section of Texas’ anti-abortion law ‘unconstitutional,' arguing the plaintiffs couldn’t establish a case for “undue burden” on women and agreed the state essentially knows best, as it has an interest in regulating the medical field. While no ruling was given today, it's expected that the trio of conservative judges will mirror their past decisions on reproductive rights. If any further indication is needed to predict the New Orleans-based appellate court's final ruling, look to the reaction by anti-abortion lobby groups who lauded the judge's treatment of Planned Parenthood and the CRR:
5th Circuit Ct trial in NOLA is over. 3-judge panel was definitely critical of PPs claims of undue burden & facial challenge. #HB2 — Texas Right to Life (@TXRightToLife) January 6, 2014Likewise, Texas Alliance for Life spokesman Joe Pojman told the Chronicle after the hearing that he was "gratified" by the judges’ questions. The case is expected, by some, to eventually end up at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.