Declaring the Texas law requiring abortion clinics’ doctors have admitting privileges to local hospitals and on-site surgical facilities violates the Constitution, the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt made by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which would have closed all but about ten abortion facilities in the state.
The law was predicted to close many clinics and further reduce availability of abortion in Texas; the court has ruled the law violated the Constitution.
With a 5-3 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court reversed a decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had upheld the law. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented, while Anthony Kennedy joined the liberal justices in the majority.
Fox News reports:
The Texas law required all clinics performing abortions in the state to operate as certified “ambulatory surgical centers,” which would be regulated under the same standards as hospitals. Doctors who performed abortions were also required to first obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Proponents of the law argued it would improve patient care and safety, though abortion rights groups contended the law made it nearly impossible to operate a clinic in Texas.
This was the first abortion-related decision SCOTUS has addressed in nearly a decade. The next decision may come from the investigative undercover videos of abortion providers discussing the sale of post-abortive fetal-tissue released by The Center for Medical Progress last year. Indiana was the first state to change its laws to make selling body parts from aborted fetuses illegal. According to the Indianapolis Star, under “HEA 1337, a person who acquires, receives, sells or transfers fetal tissue would face a Level 5 felony, punishable by up to six years in prison. HEA 1337 also would ban abortions sought solely because a fetus might be born with a disability such as Down syndrome, or because of a fetus’s gender or race.” Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has already filed a lawsuit against the bill that will go into effect on July 1, 2016.
The Minnesota Legislature debated a similar bill this spring after Alpha News broke the news that the University of Minnesota was purchasing aborted fetal tissue from the Whole Women’s Health Clinic (formerly Meadowbrook Women’s Health), which operates under the same banner of the organization named in today’s SCOTUS decision.
Today’s decision brought both praise and criticism by Presidential candidates and lawmakers:
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, in a series of Tweets, hailed the decision as “a victory for women” — but said there’s more work to be done.
“This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights. -H,” Clinton tweeted.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott decried the decision in a statement Monday.
“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.”
Others also weighed in on the decision (from KDFM.com):
From the Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden:
“Abortionists shouldn’t be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled against a law so clearly designed to protect the health and safety of women in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal. The law’s requirements were commonsense protections that ensured the maximum amount of protection for women, who deserve to have their well-being treated by government as a higher priority than the bottom line of abortionists. Any abortion facilities that don’t meet basic health and safety standards are not facilities that anyone should want to remain open.”
From Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas:
“We are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision. But the fight to protect abortion access isn’t over. State legislatures around the country have passed hundreds of anti-abortion measures since 1973 and Texas lawmakers have been responsible for more than 18 of those. They’ve forced women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds, face mandatory delays and make extra, unnecessary visits to medical clinics that in many cases were hundreds of miles away. They’ve even passed legislation that forces doctors to lie to their own patients. There is no reason to believe they will give up trying to deny women access to abortion care now and going forward we will continue the fight to make sure that right is protected.”
The SCOTUS decision will likely become a key piece to how or whether any similar legislation is passed in Minnesota.
UPDATED 2:15pm June 27, 2016