Abortion

The Supreme Court Just Struck Down Texas’ Abortion Restrictions

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Just when it was looking like there was no good news to be had in the world, the Supreme Court just shot down a restrictive Texas anti-abortion law that would have shut down almost every abortion provider in the state.

According to the New York TImes, the Texas law in question was passed by the Texas legislature and signed into law in 2013 by Governor Rick Perry. It claimed to be interested in the health and safety of women, but the only real effect seemed to be making it virtually impossible for an abortion clinic to operate in Texas. According to the law, all abortion-providing clinics in the state would have to be full ambulatory surgical centers. It also required any doctor performing an abortion to have admitting privileges at a hospital near the clinic.

Those rules could have reduced the number of abortion clinics in the entire state of Texas to approximately 10. For the entire state of Texas. And those would have been almost exclusively in the four cities of Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. There would have been no Texas clinics located west of San Antonio, which would have left an unserved area bigger than the entire state of California.

fDon’t live near one of those cities? Good luck getting to a clinic if you’re poor. (If you’re rich and need an early abortion, you’re fine. Just book a flight anywhere and make a trip of it. This is just one of the more obvious ways anti-abortion restrictions mainly harm poor women.)

The Supreme Court ruled that the restrictions would put undue burdens on women looking for abortions without offering actual medical benefits.

“Abortions taking place in an abortion facility are safe — indeed, safer than numerous procedures that take place outside hospitals and to which Texas does not apply its surgical-center requirements,” wrote Justice Stephen G. Breyer. “Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortion to result in death, but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home.”

This is great news, because not only has the Texas law been struck down as unconstitutional, it means other states attempting to pull this same type of constitutional run-around to ban abortion are likely also unconstitutional. This is a big win for reproductive freedom, and we should feel free to celebrate accordingly.

The court ruled 5-3 against the constitutionality of the Texas law. Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan voted against it. Surprising literally nobody, Justices Roberts, Thomas, and Alito voted in favor of the Texas abortion restrictions.

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