The Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 today to put a temporary hold on a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that would have closed all but 9 of the state’s abortion clinics in Texas.
The order from the Supreme Court comes in response to an emergency request filed by women’s health care providers on the behalf of Texas women earlier this month asking the Court to stay House Bill 2, which would have taken effect as law on Wednesday. The law would have required abortion clinics to adhere to strict and costly hospital-like facility requirements. Had it gone into effect, 13 clinics in Texas would have face immediate closure.
“The justices have preserved Texas women’s few remaining options for safe and legal abortion care for the moment,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors,” Northup added.
If the clinics in Texas were to close, an estimated 1.3 million women of reproductive age would live more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic. This provision has already forced approximately half of the state’s abortion clinics to close their doors over the past two years.
“We’re relieved that the high court has, once again, prevented anti-choice politicians from pushing safe and affordable abortion care entirely out of reach for Texas women,” said Amy Hagstom-Miller, founder, president, and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.
“The 5-4 split- with Justices Kennedy, Bader-Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan, voting to keep the clinics open, and Chief Justice Roberts together with Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito voting against the clinics- shows just how important elections and judicial appointments are to guarding women’s constitutional rights,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.
The ruling today means that the Supreme Court will likely determine during its next term whether or not onerous TRAP laws, like the one in Texas, are constitutional.
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 6/22/15; 9/5/13; Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release 6/29/30