Editorial Roundup: Excerpts from recent editorials

AP News
Posted: Jul 01, 2015 7:38 PM

Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:


July 1

Los Angeles Times on Texas' abortion law:

The Supreme Court's decision Tuesday to allow nearly a dozen Texas abortion clinics to stay open while it considers whether to review an onerous new anti-abortion law was not just a welcome course of action for women in that state. It was also a promising indication that the court is concerned about the burdensome and unnecessary law, which requires clinics to be outfitted as ambulatory surgical centers and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

If the law had gone fully into effect Wednesday, it would have shuttered 10 more abortion clinics and left Texas with just nine clinics operating. The law's admitting privileges requirement, which went into effect in 2013, has already forced more than half of Texas' 41 clinics to close. For some women, particularly in rural areas, the nearest abortion clinic could be as far as 200 miles away.

Like similar restrictions on abortion passed in other states, the Texas law is nothing more than an attempt to curtail constitutionally protected access to the procedure — justified on the cynical pretext of protecting women's health and safety. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Assn. filed a brief in 2013 opposing the law after it was passed.

The two medical groups called abortion "one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States." The brief said there was no medically sound reason for Texas to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges or to impose more stringent requirements on facilities providing abortions than on those providing procedures with similar or greater risks — including colonoscopies, vasectomies, dental extractions and laser eye surgeries. (All of those procedures can be done in clinic settings or doctors' offices.)

More than 90% of abortions in the United States are performed in outpatient settings. There is a less than 0.3% risk of major complications following an abortion, and the risk of complications arising specifically from first-term abortions is 0.05%, according to the brief.

In some other states that have required admitting privileges and surgical center standards, abortion providers and women's health advocates have successfully challenged the laws. Where challenges have been unsuccessful, sometimes providers have negotiated with regulators or applied for waivers to the laws. But Texas stands out for being a state with some of the most stringent requirements for abortion facilities.

The Supreme Court should hear the health care providers' challenge of the 5th Circuit Court decision letting this law stand. The court should strike down this law and make clear that the Texas law and others like it that purport to protect women's health and safety instead put an undue burden on those seeking an abortion, and are unconstitutional.




June 30

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Donald Trump:

In striking a business arrangement with Donald Trump, maybe Baton Rouge and state officials considered the possibility that Trump would shoot off his mouth and spoil the deal.

There's ample precedent, after all, for Trump making a fool of himself when he speaks. If the multimillionaire real estate developer and professional boor is going to be a part of Louisiana's cultural economy, then maybe prepping for Trump eruptions should be included in the state's disaster response plan, just like floods and hurricanes.

"Disaster" is perhaps not too strong a word for what's happened to the Miss USA pageant, which will be staged in Baton Rouge on July 12, the second consecutive year that the contest has been held in the city. Trump owns the company that operates the event, and area officials offered the pageant some $545,000 in tax money this year, most of it from East Baton Rouge city-parish government, to bring the event to Louisiana. What officials hoped to buy with all that cash was a lot of attention for Baton Rouge and Louisiana, thanks to a national broadcast of the pageant.

But in announcing his presidential candidacy, which seemed more like an exercise in publicity than political engagement, Trump disparaged Mexican immigrants as drug dealers and rapists, a jeremiad worthy of David Duke.

Understandably scandalized, both the Spanish language network Univision and NBC canceled plans to broadcast the pageant. Without that TV coverage, local taxpayers might end up subsidizing a pageant that gets less viewers than the latest cat video. That's a sad development given all the hard work of many well-meaning officials and volunteers in hosting this event in Baton Rouge. The lack of a TV sponsor for the pageant is also a disappointment for the contestants who have spent so much effort to get this far.

Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, who manages the state's relatively small share of the incentive package, said the state won't cough up its promised $65,000 in funding if the pageant isn't broadcast. Whether Baton Rouge officials can or will rescind the hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax money they've promised to Trump is unclear at this point.

Such generosity has made us an easy mark, we're afraid, but we hope the Miss USA pageant's troubles offer a cautionary lesson in the pitfalls of these public-private partnerships.

No one, especially taxpayers, should end up as a chump for Trump.




June 30

Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel on the U.S. Supreme Court and same-sex marriage:

In a historic decision, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court on Friday extended the right to marry to gays and lesbians.

The 5-4 decision immediately wiped out Tennessee's constitutional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. All states now must license and recognize same-sex marriages.

Gov. Bill Haslam and state Attorney General Herbert Slatery, though expressing dismay at the outcome, pledged to abide by the decision. Some county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples within hours of the announcement of the ruling.

Passions run high on both sides of this issue, which goes to the core of the meaning of family. Marriage, for many, has deeply religious dimensions. Some religions do not recognize same-sex marriages, while others have embraced the practice. The Supreme Court cannot dictate a person's conscience, and pastors will not be required to perform same-sex marriages if contrary to their beliefs.

But marriage also is a secular, legal arrangement. As the final arbiter of constitutional law, the Supreme Court has spoken and Americans must accept the decision as the law of the land regarding the legal status of gay couples.

That means that Tennessee now recognizes the marriage of plaintiffs Sophy Jesty and Val Tanco, who married in New York City before moving to Knoxville. They sued to gain recognition from the state.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, declared "the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty."

Chief Justice John Roberts in his dissent countered that the court's decision improperly interfered with the legislative developments surrounding same-sex marriage. "Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens — through the democratic process — to adopt their view," Roberts wrote. "That ends today."

Some analysts believe the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 hardened the battle lines over abortion rights because the court stepped in before the people had spoken. Seventeen states had legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade; 36 states recognized same-sex marriages prior to Friday's decision.

Haslam, Slatery and the county clerks should be commended for being prepared for the ruling. Several couples, including Jon Coffee and Keith Swafford in Knox County, applied for licenses and were married the day the decision came down.

Clerks and the employees of agencies that now will be providing services to same-sex couples for the first time have a duty to follow the law and treat same-sex couples with the dignity to which they are entitled under the court's ruling.

Despite Friday's decision, same-sex marriage likely will be the source of controversy in the years to come. At the end of the day, though, the Supreme Court has determined that marriage is a fundamental right and that all married couples are equal under the law.




June 30

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on militants spreading terror on three continents:

Americans are still trying to make sense of three ferocious attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia. Each was carried out Friday by apparent Islamic militants during Islam's holy month of Ramadan; two of the assaults were mass killings.

Near Lyon, in southern France, a 35-year-old worker beheaded his manager at a plant owned by Air Products and Chemicals Co. of Allentown, Pennsylvania, then tried unsuccessfully to cause a major explosion. The attacker left Islamic inscriptions at the scene and was arrested. French police said Monday they were investigating a link to a person in Syria. No motive for the attack is yet known.

In Kuwait, a Saudi man who entered the country just hours earlier blew himself up in a Shiite mosque, killing 27 and injuring 227. The Islamic State group later posted an audio message on Twitter that it said was from the bomber. Police arrested two men Sunday, one of whom allegedly drove the attacker to the mosque. The assault comes during the heightened Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, including the persistent bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia.

The Tunisian attack occurred at a beach resort in Sousse frequented by foreigners. A 24-year-old student opened fire with an assault rifle and grenades, claiming the lives of 38, at least 18 of whom were British tourists. Police killed the attacker and arrested seven people between Sunday and Monday in connection with the slayings for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

France, Kuwait and Tunisia have since tightened security, and authorities are exploring leads and links to others who may have been involved. None of the attackers had been of special interest to police prior to last week, suggesting that intelligence surveillance can go only so far. It is worth learning whether these attacks were related or waged independently and whether they were planned by the Islamic State or at least inspired by allegiance to the militant group.