The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will hear a case regarding a Texas law requiring abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Since the law was passed, the number of clinics providing abortion services in the state dropped to 19 from 42.
A federal court trial judge declared the law invalid, ruling that it would not advance the state’s interest in promoting women’s health. He applied the standard formulated by the Supreme Court, that abortion restrictions cannot impose “an undue burden” on a woman’s access to the procedure.
But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in largely reversing the trial judge, said a restriction must be upheld if “any conceivable rationale exists” for imposing it.
In addition, Politico notes that “[t]he timing of the decision, likely next June, is expected to drive voter turnout, galvanizing those on both sides of the abortion debate to turn out for a presidential candidate who shares their views on one of the nation’s most polarizing social issues.”
The state of Texas maintains that it has a right to “regulate medical facilities and providers… in the interest of women’s health.” Those in the abortion industry argue that these laws simply make it harder for women to obtain abortions.
Live Action President Lila Rose gave the following statement on the case:
“While no woman or preborn child is safe in an abortion clinic, it ought to raise huge red flags that the abortion industry is willing to compromise women’s safety even further by refusing to meet the same basic health and safety standards that most medical centers do. Time and again, we see the abortion industry cutting corners – even to the point of putting women’s safety at risk – just to increase profits. These are commonsense regulations, and the abortion industry needs to follow the same rules that everyone else has to. I am disappointed that the Supreme Court did not let the lower court’s ruling stand, but I am hopeful that this will be an opportunity for the justices to create a landmark case for the pro-life movement.”
Politico notes, “A ruling in the Texas case would be only the second time since Casey that the high court has reviewed such limits.”
Pro-life legal group Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden said in a statement, “Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women’s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists. The 5th Circuit was on firm ground to uphold this law, and therefore, the Supreme Court should affirm that decision.”
NARAL Pro-Choice says if the court rules against abortion providers, “This could send us back to a pre-Roe era.” Roe v. Wade was the 1973 decision in which the Supreme Court made abortion legal in all 50 states.
Congresswomen and former nurse Diane Black of Tennessee said in response to the news, “As a nurse for more than 40 years, I know that the abortion laws on the books in Texas exist to protect the health and safety of women. There is ultimately no such thing as a safe abortion but these standards work to reduce the risks of this already emotionally damaging procedure. ”
While the abortion industry lobbies against any law regulating the industry, arguing that abortion is legal and therefore should remain accessible regardless, it has been well-documented that an unregulated abortion industry is an unsafe abortion industry for women.