The Supreme Court Just Ruled On the Biggest Abortion Issue In Texas

Today, the Supreme Court made one of its biggest abortion rulings regarding a law in Texas. It took three months of deliberation, but the highest court ruled parts of a Texas law which restricts abortion providers was unconstitutional because it places an unnecessary burden on women.

The majority opinion was delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was joined by fellow justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

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The law in question was Texas’ House Bill 2, which was passed in 2013. It required all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, mandated that all abortion clinics meet requirements of ambulatory surgical centers, placed restrictions around medically induced abortions and prohibited abortions 20 weeks post-fertilization. Challenges to the sections of the law restricting admitting privileges and imposed ambulatory surgical requirements were heard by the Supreme Court.

Due to the law, several abortion clinics are now closed, and by October 2015, only 22 of the 41 clinics were open. If the law stayed as it was, there would only be nine or 10 abortion clinics in the state of Texas. In Texas, women who want abortions deal with long wait times for appointments, must travel 70 miles both ways during a visit and due to state-mandated ultrasounds and 24-hour wait times between counseling and the abortion itself, there are high costs to have the procedure.

It was argued by supporters of the law that it made women safer, but the American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Texas abortion providers begged to differ and argued the requirements were medically unnecessary and were harmful to women’s lives by making it harder for them to have abortions.

In March, the three women on the Supreme Court bench, justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, debated with lawyers about how necessary the law was.

To announce the ruling, Justice Breyer wrote, “We conclude that neither of these provisions offers
medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access … and each violates the Federal Constitution. ”

Supporters of the ruling such as Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in the case, said, “Today, the Supreme Court affirmed what we at Whole Woman’s Health have known all along — that every woman, no matter where she lives, deserves access to compassionate, respectful, and comprehensive care from a clinic she trusts. Today, justice was served.”

Also offering remarks was Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said, “Today, women across the nation have had their constitutional rights vindicated. The Supreme Court sent a loud and clear message that politicians cannot use deceptive means to shut down abortion clinics.”



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Brittney Fennell

Brittney Fennell

Brittney is the Associate Editor of Jawbreaker and a writer who has goals to disrupt culture in ways unseen.