Supreme Court Strikes Down TX Abortion Restrictions

The Supreme Court ruled today that a Texas law limiting access to abortions was unconstitutional:

The Supreme Court’s 5 to 3 decision ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law that required all abortion providers to meet ambulatory surgical standards and physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters of the regulations under House Bill 2 said they aimed to protect women’s health. Abortion advocates called the mandates unnecessary, expensive and an “undue burden” on women’s rights.

...In the court opinion, the justices said lawmakers couldn’t prove the rules actually protected women’s health. The move suggested restrictive abortion measures won’t stand unless policy designers prove they keep women from harm.

The opinion is here. [More...]

The regulations at issue:

1) a requirement that any clinic performing abortions meet all standards for an “ambulatory surgical center,” where invasive minor operations can be performed without requiring hospitalization; and (2) a requirement that any physician performing abortions have “admitting privileges”—the ability to order a patient admitted without an initial examination by another doctor—at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

The dissenters were Justices Alito, Roberts and Thomas.

If Texas is so gung ho on the right to life, why don't they end the death penalty?

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  • Display: Sort:
    Forget it, Jeralyn - it's Texas. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 08:14:20 PM EST
    And for many conservatives, it simply wouldn't be Texas without the death penalty. Of course, to some of us on the left, Texas is the land of political blowhards and pinheads - Austin and Houston excepted.

    It is my earnest hope that one of these days, Texans will finally wake up and accept the fact that Anne Richards, Molly Ivins and Wendy Davis were right.


    im confused (none / 0) (#5)
    by linea on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 11:39:28 PM EST
    i dont understand why the death penalthy in texas relevant

    And once upon a time, (none / 0) (#9)
    by MKS on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 08:30:32 AM EST
    Ralph Yarborough.   In the motorcade at Dealey Plaza.  Patron Saint of Texas Liberals.

    Also I always thought (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by CaptHowdy on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 09:04:51 PM EST
    It ironic that the people most hung ho on forcing a woman to have a child are almost always the one most against providing any support for feeding clothing or educating it once it's born.    They only seem passionate about caring for children until they are born.  After that they are on their own.

    The Right to Life begins (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by MKS on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 08:26:24 AM EST
    at conception and ends at birth. (Courtesy of Barney Frank.)

    When your adversaries have to base their actions (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Peter G on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 09:35:31 PM EST
    on a set of blatant lies, like these "protect women's health" measures (better known as TRAPs), you know you are on the right side of the issue.

    If you missed arguments in March, read this (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Towanda on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 10:15:23 PM EST
    wonderful reporting from Slate on the day that this decision was won.  

    I see commentary today that the 5-3 vote means that Scalia's death didn't matter.  I disagree, as he likely would have had a fit about Roberts allowing Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Breyer to ignore the clock so as to ask the crucial questions -- especially Ginsburg's questioning of the argument that Texas women could just go to another state.  That was the moment that, I think, the case was won.

    curious (none / 0) (#6)
    by linea on Mon Jun 27, 2016 at 11:59:43 PM EST
    why did breyer "deliver the opinion of the court" ?

    why not ginsburg or sotomayor or kagan?

    has ginsburg (et al) ever written the opinion for the court? is the opinion delivered by the person with the stongest argument or is it senority based?

    Seniority based. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Chuck0 on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 07:05:55 AM EST
    But the senior justice can assign the opinion to another. As in this case. Kennedy was senior, but he assigned the writing of the opinion to Breyer.

    Justice Ginsburg authored the majority opinion (none / 0) (#10)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:01:18 AM EST
    8 times this Term, out of 64 cases decided with signed opinions. Exactly what you would expect, statistically.

    Ginsburg (none / 0) (#12)
    by jbindc on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:35:20 AM EST
    Had already authored a majority opinion for the February sitting.  It was either going to be Breyer or Kagan and Kagan had the Voisine opinion (also released yesterday).

    Another way of answering your question, Linea (none / 0) (#19)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 03:38:31 PM EST
    might be this, from Dahlia Lithwick.

    OMG thank God (none / 0) (#11)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:33:05 AM EST
    The self aborting going on in Texas right now is hair raising.

    Peter G or anyone else here who can answer, does this ruling affect all the other states that passed this TRAP law?

    Yes, MT, it sets a precedent that is binding (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:50:15 AM EST
    although to the extent there are differences in other states' similar provisions or in their application and enforcement, those other states' TRAP laws would not all, automatically be invalidated. Yesterday's decision is quite fact-intensive.

    For instance (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 02:01:04 PM EST
    Injunctions earlier entered against Mississippi's and Wisconsin's TRAP laws were upheld (let stand) today by the Supreme Court, not sent back for further consideration in light of yesterday's Texas decision. That's a bit of a favorable sign suggesting broad applicability.

    Thank you so much! (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 05:02:01 PM EST
    i read (none / 0) (#15)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 11:01:12 AM EST
    this is why the two other than Thomas, who was the only one to vote to uphold the law as written, wanted to send the law back to the lower court.  so it could be ruled in a way that would have a more narrow effect on all the other states with similar laws.  



    Either narrowing, or delay (none / 0) (#17)
    by Peter G on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 01:35:49 PM EST
    or both

    Michigan has TRAP laws (none / 0) (#22)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Jun 29, 2016 at 06:36:04 AM EST
    and has lost about ten of thirty clinics that had existed pre-TRAP.  The preliminary opinions I've seen in print seem to be that TRAPs in Michigan and other states will have to be individually fought.  There's no Emily Latella to simply "never mind" the legislation away.

    The pro-lifers will dig in their heels to make it as hard as possible.  What's right or wrong is irrelevant.  When the TRAP approach is exhausted, they'll fund another approach.  It's a cash cow to the religious right.


    not a lawyer (none / 0) (#13)
    by CST on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 10:39:38 AM EST
    but the reporting on it certainly suggests that that is the case, and that it is likely to set off a string of lawsuits in other states regarding both the admitting requirements and the facility requirements.

    I hope so CST (none / 0) (#20)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 05:01:15 PM EST
    Alabama is down to one clinic struggling to hang on.

    Alabama Attorney General says (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jun 29, 2016 at 07:27:04 AM EST
    They will no longer seek to enforce their law that clinic doctors must have hospital admitting privileges.

    Seems like (none / 0) (#24)
    by CST on Wed Jun 29, 2016 at 10:53:29 AM EST
    This is a pretty huge decision with wide ranging consequences/applications.

    Thank goodness.


    It is so ordered. (none / 0) (#16)
    by KeysDan on Tue Jun 28, 2016 at 12:47:29 PM EST
    This is, of course, a logical and substantive decision that follows the law.  But, it should not have had to be made if not for the Republican political strategy to undermine and subvert the constitutional protection for comprehensive women's health.  

    Roe v Wade indicated that a state has a legitimate interest to see that abortion is performed under circumstances that assure safety to the patient; Planned Parenthood v Casey cautioned that unnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle impose an "undue burden."

    The Court of Appeals (Fifth Circuit) dismissed the need for evidence for Texas' health-related claims. Rational speculation without evidence would be fine, no need to do other than defer to the legislature.

    The Supreme Court set that Court straight: An undue burden is one that outweighs a benefit.  Justice Breyer concluded that the Texas law vastly increases the obstacles without providing any benefit to women's health capable of withstanding scrutiny. Importantly, too, is the Court's discard of teasing out women's health care from health care.  And the best lesson of all, perhaps, is for Republican opponents to get with the program--facts and evidence matter in decision-making these days. It is hard to fathom, for some, but it is true.

    If there is any sadness to this decision, it is the pitiful dissents. Thomas was...well Thomas. Alito along with Roberts hitched their wagon to the dead horse of procedural issues...what about severability, expressed in their wonderment?  What about that fire safety stuff?  That's important you know.   Is that all you got? Seems so.

    A Surprising History of Abortion in the US (none / 0) (#25)
    by Mr Natural on Sat Jul 02, 2016 at 12:43:19 PM EST
    - Jessica Ravitz, CNN

    As always, follow the money.  In this case, it leads directly to a fledgling AMA.