The Supreme Court has reversed a ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, dealing a major set-back to pro-life efforts.
This case centers around Texas’ HB 2, which was passed in 2013. HB 2 required doctors to have “admitting privileges” with a hospital within 30 miles and would have forced them to renovate their clinics to become “ambulatory surgical centers.” In other words, it put a lot of red tape around all the abortion clinics in Texas—causing half of them to close, according to an article by Vox.
The law was part of the pro-life movement’s attempts to indirectly strike a blow to abortion practices in Texas. However, the majority of doctors practicing abortions in Texas raised a fuss by saying HB 2 did not do what it proposed to do, which was make abortions safer, and in fact did the opposite.
The Supreme Court reached a decision today, voting 5-3 to overturn HB 2, declaring, “Both the admitting-privileges and the 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.”
The three justices that voted in favor of upholding HB 2 were Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts. The remaining justices: Stephen G. Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan voted to overturn HB 2. Justice Ginsburg had this to say, “It is beyond rational belief that HB 2 could genuinely protect the health of women.” Furthermore, Ginsburg claimed the law would cause “women in desperate circumstances [to] resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners…at great risk to their health and safety.”
As The New York Times claims, this was “the court’s most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.” While this decision most immediately affects the state of Texas, other states who lean toward pro-life sentiments will likely see changes coming their way as well.