In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court on Monday struck down the Texas abortion law regulating clinics, marking the Court’s first major abortion ruling in 9 years. The court had last ruled on abortion in a 2007 case, upholding the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion for the court, with Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joining him. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
“We agree with the District Court that the surgical center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so,” Breyer wrote.
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who supports unfettered abortion up until the day the baby is born, said in a series of Tweets the decision was “a victory for women.” However, she said there’s more work to be done.
“This fight isn’t over: The next president has to protect women’s health. Women won’t be ‘punished’ for exercising their basic rights. -H,” Clinton tweeted.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the former state attorney general, slammed the decision as a violation of the 10th Amendment in a statement following the decision.
“The decision erodes States’ lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women and subjects more innocent life to being lost,” Abbott said. “Texas’ goal is to protect innocent life, while ensuring the highest health and safety standards for women.”
At issue in the case was whether the state could require clinics performing abortions to have doctors with hospital admission privileges. In other words, if something were to go wrong with the procedure the doctor could admit the patient at the hospital.
But abortionists argued that the law placed too many restrictions upon the clinics and placed an unduly burden on abortion-seekers because the state was so large. Fewer than 10 would have remained open if the law was allowed to remain in effect and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state of Texas on behalf of a coalition of abortion clinics.
Supporters of the law maintained it would’ve improved patient care and safety, while abortionists said the law made it nearly impossible to operate a clinic in Texas.
“When we decide cases on particularly controversial issues, we should take special care to apply settled procedural rules in a neutral manner,” Justice Alito wrote in his dissent. “The Court has not done that here.”