Supreme Court rules in favor of abortion access in Texas; likely to have implications for other states

The Supreme Court of the United States has issued its most significant ruling on abortion in nearly 25 years.  By a vote of 5 to 3 the justices declared that a 2013 Texas law requiring abortion providers to meet a numbers of strict standards created an undue burden for women seeking to terminate their pregnancies and was therefore unconstitutional.


Mazzoni Center CEO Nurit Shein said: “We are pleased that the court has reviewed this law and recognized that its true aim was restricting access to care, rather than protecting women.”


“We believe that everyone should have access to quality reproductive health care in a safe environment,” she added.


The regulations, which authors of the law insisted were intended to protect the health and safety of patients, stipulated things like minimum corridor width and room size, and hospital admitting privileges for individual doctor. They had caused nearly half of the abortion providers in Texas to close, with the result that women had to drive hundreds of miles and often wait weeks to get an abortion. 


Briefs filed with the court by medical groups, including one by the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and another by Ten Pennsylvania abortion providers, explained that the Texas law would not enhance safety and would have the effect of impeding and undermining patient care.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her opinion concurring with the majority, wrote: “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety.”


While the exact implications of this ruling on abortion providers in the state of Pennsylvania are not yet clear, the court’s decision will likely impact abortion regulations and access throughout the U.S. 


The court has said in the past that states may regulate access to abortion services but not in a way that creates an “undue burden” for women.


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