The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled against a Texas abortion law that had required doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The ruling is a major victory for abortion rights advocates.
In its ruling, the court said that the Texas restrictions placed “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, constitutes an undue burden on abortion access and violates the Federal Constitution.”
The Texas legislature in 2013 imposed strict restrictions on how, when and where women could get an abortion. Those rules, had they stood, would have closed 30 out of 40 abortion clinics in the state and left large areas of Texas with no licensed abortion provider.
Texas argued that the restrictions are constitutional because they protect the health of women who experience complications arising from abortions.
However, “many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory- surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in today’s ruling. “It is beyond rational belief that [the Texas law] could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”
The 5-3 ruling was written by Justice Stephen Breyer and joined in full by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was considered to be the vital swing vote on the abortion issue.
“There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure,” said Justice Breyer. “We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women.”
Justice Clarence Thomas in one of the dissents said “the Court has simultaneously transformed judicially created rights like the right to abortion into preferred constitutional rights, while disfavoring many of the rights actually enumerated in the Constitution.”
Democratic presidential candidate said on Twitter “SCOTUS’s decision is a victory for women in Texas and across America. Safe abortion should be a right—not just on paper, but in reality.” Clinton added that “this fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights.”
No word yet from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Check back for updates.