U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Right to Abortion
Rules in Favor of Whole Woman’s Health, Overruling HB2 in a Historic Decision
Earlier today, June 27, 2016, the Supreme Court once again reaffirmed the constitutional right to an abortion in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt. In a 5–3 ruling, the decision of the Fifth Circuit has been reversed, overturning Texas’ HB2 law.
HB2 had placed two onerous restrictions on abortion clinics and providers: that all clinics must meet the building requirements of an ambulatory surgical center (ASC), and that all abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a hospital no further than 30 miles away from the clinic at which the provider works. These requirements had been created under the guise of protecting women’s health, but in actual practice did the opposite. Because of this ruling, however, the remaining abortion clinics in Texas can stay open and the clinics that had previously closed have a pathway to re-open their doors, providing individuals across the state with access to sexual and reproductive health care once again.
The right to abortion has been reasserted, but the fight to protect abortion access is not over. The anti-abortion camp vigorously tries to find any avenue to take health care away from women and people needing abortions. However, going forward it will become more difficult for states to enact and defend “TRAP” laws (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) that have the purpose of hindering access to abortion by means of shutting down abortion clinics.
Justice Kennedy joined the majority opinion with Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan to reaffirm that “these matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”