The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law putting strict restrictions on abortion clinics and providers. It’s a huge victory for women in Texas, but what does it mean for everyone else?
First, the case:
This case centers around Texas’s HB2, which puts stringent requirements on clinics and clinicians that provide abortions. The law requires all abortion clinics to meet the same standards as an ambulatory surgical center (pretty much a mini-hospital). It also requires anyone providing an abortion to admit patients to a nearby hospital — even though abortions result in complications less than 1% of the time.
The requirements are so strict that, after the law passed in 2013, half of the state’s abortion clinics shut down. The number of women living more than 200 miles away from an abortion clinic increased by 2,800%. And if the law was allowed to continue, it would leave Texas with only seven or eight abortion clinics, total. So Whole Women's Health — a Texas women’s health clinic — said no thank you, and filed suit against the state.
On June 27, the justices ruled 5-3 that the Texas law was unconstitutional. They threw in a #tbt to 1992, when the court ruled that unnecessary health regulation that put an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions are unconstitutional. Requiring clinics to look like mini hospitals and axing all clinicians without admitting privileges? Both officially undue burdens that prevent women from getting affordable, and safe access to abortion.
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” Justice Breyer wrote in the majority opinion.
How it affects you:
While this ruling only struck down the Texas law, there are plenty more unnecessarily restrictive laws around the country. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute reports that there are 24 states with targeted restrictions against abortion providers (aka TRAP laws.)
Twenty-two states in the United States have surgical center requirements similar to Texas. Fourteen states have unnecessary restriction on clinical, like Texas's admitting privileges requirement. All of these states “go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety,” according to Guttmacher.
With HB2 ruled unconstitutional, other restrictive abortion laws have a better chance of getting struck down, too.
To see if there are laws like Texas's in place in your state, check out this TRAP law tracker from ProChoice America.