As you undoubtedly are aware if you have a uterus or know someone who does, this week, the US Supreme Court ruled that laws in Texas requiring abortion clinics to be rebuilt to hospital-like standards and for clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals constitutes an undue burden on women’s right to choose–upholding the centerpiece of Roe v. Wade.
To celebrate this HUGE victory for women’s rights this week, Friday Fem is adhering to a strict no-bummers policy this week (OK, if you want ONE bummer, click here) and bringing you a roundup of stories about what the Court did, what the ruling means, and what implications it’s likely to have for states going forward. Happy Independence Day, everybody!
“Facts and evidence eventually prevail.” That’s the conclusion of an Austin Chronicle story celebrating Monday’s victory, in which, the Chron reports, the Court “picked apart the state and 5th Circuit’s often illogical arguments for the two provisions,” which required abortion clinics to be rebuilt as mini-hospitals and mandated that doctors who performed abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The court ruled that both provisions were undue burdens on women’s ability to access abortion, were medically unnecessary, and were motivated by a political desire to limit abortion access, not to protect women’s health.
(Texas attorney General Ken Paxton, of course, disagrees, continuing to claim disingenuously that his state’s unconstitutional anti-choice laws were really meant to “protect women,” calling it “exceedingly unfortunate that the court has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives, Talking Points Memo reports.)
Kaiser Health News has an informative guide called “5 Things to Know About the Supreme Court’s Texas Abortion Decision,” which includes the answer to one common question: Will this force other states with Texas-like Targeted Restriction of Abortion Provider, or TRAP, laws to repeal those laws? Kaiser reports: “[T]he decision does not automatically invalidate similar laws in other states because the impact of such statutes is different in every community. For example, what may amount to an “undue burden” in Texas because of the sheer size of the state might not be so burdensome in states with clinics closer together.”
And in fact, the AP reports, Planned Parenthood is already on the offense on this front, announcing it will challenge TRAP laws in eight other states that include provisions similar to the unconstitutional Texas law: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia. They’ll also target laws in Texas that were not directly addressed by the Supreme Court ruling, and may sue to overturn TRAP laws in other states later.
Mississippi and Wisconsin have already seen repercussions from the landmark ruling, as the Court also rejected efforts in those states to revive their own TRAP laws; Mississippi’s proposal, which would have required abortion clinics to obtain formal affiliation with a hospital within 30 miles, would have shut down the only remaining abortion provider in the state, Think Progress and Reuters report.
Talking Points Memo points out that although SCOTUS’ rulings only impact three states directly, there are a lot of dominoes that could still topple: 11 states have laws requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions, and 24 require hospital-like settings for clinics where abortions are provided.