The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday, striking down key parts of a Texas abortion law, could fortunately kill restrictions imposed in other states like Missouri and Kansas that unconstitutionally limit women’s right to an abortion.
The Texas Legislature in 2013 passed a law requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles from the abortion clinic and mandated that the clinics meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory centers.
The 5-3 decision in favor of Texas women’s clinics performing abortions was viewed as the biggest case in about a quarter century.
Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision, stating that the “surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an ‘undue burden’ on their constitutional right to do so.”
The high court ruling is a great victory for groups that have long struggled for women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortions. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 gave women the right to have an abortion, and committed groups have had to fight to keep it ever since.
Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, said in a statement the decision “should mark the end of Missouri’s campaign to impose unnecessary and burdensome regulations on abortion providers for the purpose of making abortion care more difficult to obtain.”
In all likelihood, anti-abortion efforts will continue, striking at new ways to restrict women’s reproductive rights. But that means that pro-choice groups must redouble their efforts.
The court ruling certainly is a step in the right direction.