The 2013 law that the justices gutted today was disingenuously framed by Texas Republicans as a measure to protect women’s health. By requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and mandating that clinics be retrofitted as “ambulatory surgical centres” (renovations that are prohibitively expensive), legislators said they were just trying to make the procedure safer. But in the oral argument, this pretext was exposed as a strategy for limiting abortion access. In his majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer surveyed the record and “found nothing...that shows that...the new law advanced Texas’ legitimate interest in protecting women’s health.” Mr Breyer added that “when directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment”, Scott Keller, the lawyer for Texas, “admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case”. The regulations have “nothing to do with ability to perform medical procedures”, Mr Breyer wrote.Several other states have either written or had been contemplating writing similar laws, and this ruling will put a stop to them. Also significant is the fact that five justices were in agreement that this was a bad a law. Thus, no matter who is eventually confirmed to the Court to replace Justice Scalia, the Court is unlikely to go along with other similar attempts to crush women's access to safe abortions.
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Monday, June 27, 2016
Big Boost to Abortion Rights From the US Supreme Court
The U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Texas law that was designed to shut down abortion clinics in that state. The Economist has a good summary: