In the wake of major budget cuts at the hands of pro-life lawmakers, three Texas Planned Parenthood branches have consolidated into a single entity: Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. This is according to an article published this week by Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune and reprinted in the New York Times. As is the case with most business combinations, the motivating purpose of this transaction was to create a leaner and more efficient organization. In this respect, the integration of the formerly separate businesses will likely result in a net cost savings attributable to non-economic factors such as functional integration, centralization or management, and economies of scale. The organization hopes that these cost savings will counter the lost financing.
So the seemingly age-old abortion debate is still very much alive and well. But this is a debate that never should have been. A woman's constitutional right to abortion cannot be disputed.
Let me be clear: as a Catholic, I am personally opposed to abortion. I believe that life begins at conception. But I believe that life begins at conception because I am Catholic. Science, on the other hand, seems to indicate that "life," as that term is scientifically defined, begins at viability (i.e. the point at which a fetus is able to survive outside the womb - about 24-28 weeks). And herein lies the problem. The opposition to abortion is a religious-based opposition.
With that being said, it becomes clear that the abortion debate is, at bottom, a religious debate. As such, it has no place in our political or legal system. To the contrary, the presence of this debate represents in impermissible entanglement of government and religion and a fundamental misunderstanding of the principles upon which this Nation was founded. Consequently, despite my personal beliefs as a Catholic, my professional opinion as a lawyer is that women must be afforded the right to choose as a matter of constitutional law. Some have called this inconsistent. But as a lawyer (and more importantly, as an American), I cannot allow my personal beliefs to undermine the clear intention of the United States Constitution.