Pro-choice advocates just won the biggest Supreme Court abortion case in decades: ‘In a huge victory for the pro-choice movement, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 Monday to strike down two major anti-abortion provisions that were part of an omnibus anti-abortion law Texas passed in 2013.
The court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt also strikes a blow to a strategy by the pro-life movement to limit abortion access incrementally, through state laws. To provide abortions at any stage of pregnancy, the provisions forced doctors to have “admitting privileges” with a nearby hospital (which are difficult to get for abortion providers specifically), and forced clinics to undergo often expensive renovations to become “ambulatory surgical centers,” which haven’t been demonstrated to make abortion safer (though abortion is already quite a safe medical procedure.) While pro-life advocates said these laws made abortion safer for women, their most significant effect was forcing roughly half of the state’s abortion clinics to close. The overwhelming consensus from doctors is that the laws had no medical benefit, and actually made abortion less safe because they forced quality clinics to close for no compelling medical reason.
The central constitutional question was: Did the policies put an “undue burden” on women when they are forced to drive hundreds of miles because their nearest clinic has closed due to regulatory hurdles? The Court found that it did…’