US Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Clinic Regulations
Texas had argued that its 2013 law and subsequent regulations were needed to protect women’s health.
The Supreme Court struck down Texas’ widely replicated regulation of abortion clinics on Monday, in the court’s biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter century.
The justices voted 5-3 in favor of Texas clinics that had argued the regulations were a thinly veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get an abortion in the nation’s second-most populous state.
Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion.
Texas had argued that its 2013 law and subsequent regulations were needed to protect women’s health. The rules required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.
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.
Abortion providers said the rules would have cut the number of abortion clinics in the state by three-fourths if they had been allowed to take full effect.
When the then Governor Rick Perry signed the law in 2013, there were about 40 clinics throughout the state. That number dropped to under 20 and would have been cut in half again if the law had taken full effect, the clinics said.
Texas is among 10 states with similar admitting privileges requirements, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The requirement is in effect in most of Texas, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee.
It is on hold in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Texas passed a broad bill imposing several abortion restrictions in 2013. Texas clinics sued immediately to block it, claiming it impermissibly interfered with a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
The Supreme Court allowed the admitting privileges requirement to take effect in most of the state, but put the surgical center provision on hold pending the court’s resolution of the case.
The justices split largely along liberal-conservative lines in their emergency orders, with the court’s conservative justices voting repeatedly to let the law be enforced.
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