Though the Supreme Court has rolled out announcements on rulings for many landmark cases this past week, the most important ruling on women’s health has just been made, and it is a massive victory.
The Supreme Court announced on Monday morning that they had struck down an unconstitutional law in Texas which drastically cut down on the number of abortion providers in the state to nearly unsustainable levels.
In a 5-3 decision, the court ruled that Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was to be struck down due to the unconstitutional nature of the restrictions.
If the law had been fully implemented, the number of clinics in the state would have continued to shrink due to the unrealistic and unnecessarily high standards the state was trying to impose.
Texas wanted to force abortion clinics, who for the majority of cases perform minor procedures including a large majority of non-surgical interventions, to have near hospital-like standards. The law required the buildings to have hallways wide enough to accommodate two hospital gurneys passing as well as requiring the doctors working in the facilities to have admission privileges at the nearest hospital.
Though it was never explicitly stated, the regulations were clearly an attempt at reducing the number of abortions by reducing access; the language in Roe v. Wade is clear that states cannot place an undue amount of stress on the ability of a woman to obtain a safe abortion. These regulations being imposed in Texas were in clear violation of that.
This victory for women’s health is significant because if the ruling in Texas had been upheld, states all over the nation would have instituted their own regulations, making a safe and comfortable abortion nearly impossible to find.
Likely, this will mean that the number of clinics in Texas and elsewhere will slowly return to more realistic levels as they no longer have to fear expensive and unrealistic rules and regulations in what is a relatively safe and low-risk procedure.