Supreme Court Declares Texas Law Restricting Abortion Access Unconstitutional
On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law known as HB 2 that could have restricted access to abortions throughout Texas, and shape the future of abortion rights for women in America.
The bill mandated all abortions, even those conducted with pills, to be done in "ambulatory surgical centers." Another provision in the bill required all doctors performing surgical or medical abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic.
In a 5-3 decision in the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the court overturned the decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the controversial law.
According to the Supreme Court ruling, "both the admitting-privileges and the surgical-center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution."
Opponents of the bill said the Texas HB 2 law could stop a majority of clinics in Texas from providing abortion services leaving 900,000 women, of child-bearing age, with no other option but to drive more than 300 miles in order to get to an abortion clinic.
Fifth circuit is reversed!!! #WholeWomansHealth
— Wendy Davis (@wendydavis) June 27, 2016
— Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) June 27, 2016
— Arielle Swernoff (@ArielleSwernoff) June 27, 2016
The Supreme Court began hearing the case in March.
Our day in Court has arrived. TY to all who worked to make this day possible and to all who shared their personal stories. #WeWontGoBack
— Wendy Davis (@wendydavis) March 2, 2016
— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) March 2, 2016
In past years, abortion restriction laws in Texas have caused about half of the state's 41 clinics to close. In a recent episode of "Full Frontal," MAKER Samantha Bee explains how an anti-abortion lobbying group pre-writes legislation and has managed to spark a wave of anti-abortion laws in recent years.
Before abortion was legalized in 1973 with the landmark case Roe v. Wade, abortion advocates argued that women often died having illegal backroom abortions. Co-founder of Ms. Magazine, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, noted in her exclusive MAKERS interview that some women were having abortions themselves using knitting needles.
But an architect of Texas' anti-abortion bill, causing about half of the state's clinics to close, does not know that.
In an embarrassing interview for the lawmaker with the comedian writer Bee, Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn tries to explain how the state laws improve health care for women. But Bee argues the abortion restriction laws make it difficult for women to have access to healthcare.
"What do you mean impossible? I'll tell you what, anytime you start cutting on people's body you need to have it in a procedure where it can be healthy,” he says.
And Bee comes in with a (not so shocking) revelation: "Of course. You don't cut a woman during an abortion, though."
In the past few years, pro-life activists have tried to pass state laws — often referred to as TRAP laws — that restrict abortion rights under the guise of protecting women's health.
Many women have expressed their outrage and frustration on social media using hashtags like #StopTheSham and #WeWontGoBack:
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) March 1, 2016
If TRAP laws were about women's health/safety, apply it to plastic surgery centers that have far higher mortality rates. @LeahNTorres
— lawhawk (@lawhawk) March 2, 2016
— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) January 25, 2016
Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images