SCOTUS Rejects Texas Abortion Law
Supporters of abortion rights are celebrating a milestone today. Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a Texas abortion access law. The law would have closed down over three-quarters of Texan abortion clinics. In a 5-3 ruling, judges determined that restrictions supposedly designed to protect women’s health would only burden those seeking abortions. Swing voter Justice Anthony Kennedy helped solidify the majority vote.
As Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion,
There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure. We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an “undue burden” on their constitutional right to do so.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg extended upon the majority opinion statement, describing how such obstacles could lead to illegal abortion. “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux [for want of a better alternative], at great risk for their health and safety.”
President Obama celebrated the ruling. “We remain strongly committed to the protection of women’s health, including protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to determine her own future.” Hillary Clinton responded positively to the decision via Twitter: “SCOTUS’s decision is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right – not just on paper, but in reality. -H.” Democrats in general consider the SCOTUS decision a great victory for women’s rights and reproductive health laws.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, on the other hand, tweeted in defense of women’s health and the pro-life cause. “I’m disappointed in the Court’s decision. But our fight to protect women’s health & promote life will not end here.” As Texas Gov. Abbott said, the ruling threatened states’ rights and “subject[ed] more innocent life to being lost.” The Republican agenda is less focused on women’s health and more focused on ideology and control.
Donald Trump, who has said “There has to be some form of punishment” for women seeking abortions, has yet to respond to the SCOTUS decision.
While Republicans continue to fight for the pro-life cause, liberals hope that this ruling will discourage other states like Oklahoma to pursue similar laws. As Clinton warned, just in the first three months of 2016, states introduced over 400 measures which would seek to restrict access to abortion. Now that SCOTUS has shot down Texas’s attempt at such a ruling, many other states will likely back down.
The Texas law SCOTUS struck down had been passed in 2013. The law required abortion clinics to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and for doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The law’s effects were felt across Texas, where the amount of abortion clinics decreased from 42 to a mere 19.
Pro-abortion rights activists considered the law excessive in that abortions rarely call for hospitalization and often only require that the patient take a few pills. Pro-choice supporters considered the law protective of women’s health rather than burdensome.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, said, “We are thrilled that these dangerous provisions have been struck down. This is a win for women. Every person must have the right to make their own personal decisions about abortion, and we will fight like hell to ensure they do.” In short, the right to an abortion is one of countless freedoms Americans are allowed to have.