By Conor Bryant
In a 5-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas Law HB2 was unconstitutional and “places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and that it “constitutes an undue burden on abortion access.”
Texas Law’s House Bill 2 (HB2) requires abortion providers meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. Many of the clinics are unable to meet the criteria established in HB2 because many of them are too far from a qualifying hospital or have not been able to commit the minimum number of patients.
Since the signing of the Bill by Gov. Rick Perry in 2013, over half of the abortion clinics in Texas have closed. Now more than 1.5 million women will have to travel 100+ miles to reach a qualifying clinic.
Texas claims that the HB2 restrictions were passed to protect women’s health, in the event that an abortion may go wrong and put the woman in potential harm. However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “In truth, ‘complications from an abortion are both rare are rarely dangerous.’” She further went on to argue that it was “beyond rational belief” for abortion opponents to suggest that HB2 was meant to help women. On the other hand, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton maintained his belief, and in a statement suggested the Supreme Court had taken away the state’s “ability to protect women’s health.”
The Supreme Court’s decision may prove to have a sweeping affect across the country. Currently, 22 states require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as the ambulatory surgical centers; 10 states require clinics to be within a certain distance of a hospital; five require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital. The ruling will not automatically roll back these restrictions, but abortion rights advocates will now be able to challenge them with a much greater chance of success.
The decision made by the Supreme Court was also the first major abortion case in which three female justices voted.
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