In their most pivotal ruling on abortion in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a Texas state law that had placed numerous restrictions and regulations on abortion clinics.
On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled against the Texas law known as House Bill 2, with five justices ruling against and three ruling in favor of the provisions.
The decision effectively reverses a trend cropping up in conservative states that had dramatically reduced the number of operating abortion clinics.
House Bill 2 had been passed in 2013. Since the law was passed, the number of abortion clinics in Texas has been slashed from 40 to 19.
The legislation had stipulated that abortion-providing clinics maintain sterilized settings up to par with routine hospital standards and that doctors administering the procedure are to gain admitting privileges from nearby hospitals, according to WSOCTV.
Abortion providers sued to have those two components of the law to be thrown out, charging that they were designed only to make it more difficult for women to procure, noting that an abortion is a safe procedure that does not require the same sanitized surroundings as surgery and that many abortion doctors were denied admitting privileges by surrounding hospitals.
The majority of justices agreed, ruling to have the provisions to be struck down. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, stating that the requirements were unnecessary and violated women’s constitutional right to safe and available abortions, The Associated Press reports.
The majority opinion noted 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 wrote a concurring opinion, noting that the provisions actually harmed women because when “a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.”
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion, accusing his colleagues of having “simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released an official statement praising the ruling, describing it as “a victory for women in Texas and Across America.
“Safe abortion should be a right — not just on paper, but in reality,” Clinton added, according to CNN. She added, “Our fight is far from over.”
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas slammed the Court for siding against his state.
“The decision erodes States’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Abbott said. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”
It is worthwhile to note that 13 other states had adopted requirements similar to those enacted by Texas.