By Thomas Cilla
This summer, a bill that would have increased the scrutiny required for an abortion in Texas was struck down by the United States Supreme Court, according to CNN.
On Monday, June 27, Justice Stephen Breyer announced that the Supreme Court voted 5-3 in favor of striking down Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) and upholding the precedent set in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The Court ruled that HB2 caused an undue burden on women looking to receive an abortion in Texas.
HB2 would require doctors who perform abortions to admit their patients to a hospital that is no more than 30 miles away from the patient’s home, and that the hospital must provide obstetrical and gynecological health services. The doctor must also provide women with a phone number to request assistance 24 hours a day should any complications arise.
The petitioner in the case was Whole Woman’s Health, an organization that provides gynecology services including abortions, according to their website. Whole Woman’s Health challenged HB2 on the grounds that it violated the Supreme Court’s judgement in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In that case, the Court held that a state is allowed to pass laws that increase the scrutiny required for a woman to get an abortion as long as it does not pose an undue burden on her legal right to do so, as established in Roe v. Wade.
Kirk Cole, the Texas Department of Health commissioner and respondent in the case, argued the constitutionality of HB2 in front of the Court on Wednesday, March 2.
In front of the Court, Cole challenged that giving the doctors who are performing the abortions admitting privilege ensures that they are qualified, and that it forces a continuity of care when complications from the abortion procedure arise.
The brief filed by the State of Texas also states that the majority of childbearing women in Texas live within 150 miles from an abortion clinic that meets the demands of HB2.
Whole Woman’s Health argued that these requirements infringed on the right for a woman to receive an abortion and places an undue burden on the patient.
Whole Woman’s Health’s reply brief argued that HB2 would force the closure of three-quarters of Texas abortion clinics. The 100,000-square mile area west of San Antonio would be devoid of any abortion facilities, forcing women in that area to drive to the closest one in New Mexico.
Petitioners also argued that metropolitan areas would be hit especially hard, as Houston’s 10 abortion clinics would be reduced to two for a population of over 6 million people.
When the arguments reached the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union, was against HB2.
“Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements,” Ginsburg wrote in her concurring opinion.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito filed dissenting opinions to the majority.