Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion clinic restrictions


Source: Washington Post

By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court struck down key provisions in a strict Texas abortion law on June 27 that could have a ripple effect nationwide.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled resoundingly for abortion rights advocates in the court’s most important decision on the controversial issue in 25 years, striking down abortion-clinic restrictions in Texas that are similar to those enacted across the country.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined the court’s liberals in the ­­5- to-3 decision, which said Texas’s argument that the restrictions were meant to protect women’s health was merely cover for making abortions harder to obtain.

The Texas provisions required doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and ordered clinics to meet hospital-like standards of surgical centers.

“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 Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority.

Similar restrictions have been passed in other states, including Virginia, and now must be considered suspect.

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

The admitting-privileges requirement is already in place across most of Texas and has reduced the number of clinics from around 40 to around 20, abortion rights advocates say. They say the surgical-center requirement would have forced more closures, cutting the number of clinics to about 10.

Texas officials criticized the court decision for what they described as judicial overreach that will endanger innocent lives.

“The decision erodes states’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”

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