This Monday , the Supreme Court shot down parts of a controversial Texas abortion law that would have reduced the state’s roughly 40 abortion clinics down to just around 10.
According to the New York Times, the court’s 5-to-3 decision was the “most sweeping statement on abortion rights since Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992,” saying the law “went too far” and created an “undue burden” on women seeking healthcare.
The decision on Monday means that similar restrictions in other states are most likely also unconstitutional, and it imperils many other kinds of restrictions on abortion.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion, joined by Justices Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.
The law required all clinics in Texas to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. One part of the law required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” Justice Breyer wrote. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the federal Constitution.”
“Abortions taking place in an abortion facility are safe — indeed, safer than numerous procedures that take place outside hospitals and to which Texas does not apply its surgical-center requirements,” Justice Breyer continued. “Nationwide, childbirth is 14 times more likely than abortion to result in death, but Texas law allows a midwife to oversee childbirth in the patient’s own home.”
“Today’s opinion does resemble Casey in one respect: After disregarding significant aspects of the court’s prior jurisprudence, the majority applies the undue-burden standard in a way that will surely mystify lower courts for years to come,” Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent.
Justice Alito seemed to be under the impression that the law actually protected women.
“The law was one of many enacted by states in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal, in which a physician who ran an abortion clinic in Philadelphia was convicted for the first degree murder of three infants who were born alive and for the manslaughter of a patient.”
Justice Breyer agreed that Gosnell’s behavior was horrific, but “there is no reason to believe that an extra layer of regulation would have affected that behavior,” adding that the requirements in the Texas statute “are not consistent with the constitutional standard set forth in Casey.” and were, therefore, unconstitutional.
Featured image: adeaconswife.com