Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Clinic Law


June 27, 2016 (WASHINGTON) The United States Supreme Court struck down a 2014 Texas law that led to the closure of about half the abortion clinics in the state. In Whole Woman’s  Health Et Al. v. Hellendest, Commisiner, Texas Department Of State Health Services the court wrote:

“State has a legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion . . . is performed under circumstances that insure maximum safety for the patient.” Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113, 150. But “a statute which, while furthering [a] valid state interest, has the effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice cannot be considered a permissible means of serving its legitimate ends,”

They found that the state placed undue burdens on the right of women under Roe v Wade. This decision came also because the state of Texas used a previous decision that allowed surgical center standards in W. Virginia. But the court said that this was due to a second trimester abortions. In Texas most are done during the first trimester, also the court has moved away from trimester and into viability.

What the court struck down was admitting rights within 30 miles of a hospital and meeting surgical center standards.

This is seen as a great victory for those who favor a woman’s control of her body, and a defeat for the pro life movement who has changed how they do things. Instead of going after Roe v Wade, they have been trying to limit access, so technically it is legal, but not so if you have no clinics. This is also seen as a decisive decision since it is a 5-3 decision in an 4-4 court.

What was significant is that Justice Anthony Kennedy cross to the liberal side. Also the court rejected the idea of making access harder just on these kinds of arguments. This is going to be part of the political campaign as well.

The American Civil Liberties Union had this to say on Facebook:

Great news!!! The Supreme Court strikes down both provisions of Texas’ law that denied access to abortion—both the admitting privileges requirement and the requirement that all abortion clinics have facilities comparable to an outpatient surgical center.

Both the admitting privileges and surgical center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution.


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