Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas’s Repressive Anti-Abortion Bill

The Supreme Court struck down an abortion law in Texas on Monday that would have imposed harsh regulations and restrictions on abortions, and effectively shut down abortion clinics in the state.

The 5-3 vote is one of the most significant since Roe v. Wade in 1973, as well as the 1992 abortion ruling that forbids states from imposing unnecessary health regulations that would act as a barrier for women seeking abortions.

Other states with so-called TRAP laws, or “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” will be impacted by the ruling, said Rachel Cohen, journalist at the American Prospect.

Cohen said Texas legislators had argued that these laws would make abortions safer, but “there was no evidence that this provided any medical benefit to women.”

“People have been calling this a sham for months, for a long time. They’ve been rallying around the slogan ‘Stop the Sham,’ because there was no evidence that this provided any medical benefit to women,” said Cohen.

“So people are just very happy that the justices affirmed what had been very clear to so many for so long.”

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Story Transcript

SHARMINI PERIES, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

The Supreme Court struck down an abortion law in Texas on Monday that would have imposed harsh regulations and restrictions on abortions, effectively shutting down abortion clinics in the state. The 5-3 vote is one of the most significant since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the 1992 abortion ruling that forbids states from imposing unnecessary health regulations that would act as a barrier for women seeking abortions.

Joining us now from Washington, DC to discuss this is Rachel Cohen. She’s a journalist at the American Prospect. Rachel, Thank you so much for joining us.

RACHEL COHEN: Thank you for having me.

PERIES: So, Rachel, let’s begin with the significance of this decision.

COHEN: The significance is huge. The Supreme Court ruled that these laws, known as TRAP laws, targeted regulation of abortion providers, are unconstitutional. That they provide no medical benefit for women, that they impose undue burdens on women who wish to access abortion services.

And it’s hugely significant, because while Texas sort of passed this very restrictive package of laws in 2013, other states have followed in its wake. So states like Ohio and Mississippi and Florida have also passed sort of their versions of TRAP laws. So the ruling at the Supreme Court today is going to also impact, likely impact the laws in those states, which is a very good thing.

PERIES: And is there steps underway to undo those regulations, as well?

COHEN: Yes. Now it’s very likely that lawyers in those states are going to challenge the constitutionality of those states’s laws. And with the Supreme Court’s backing they have a very strong case to make.

PERIES: Now, there were some spontaneous celebrations at the Supreme Court this morning. I’m wondering what the reactions are for those who have been fighting for abortion rights across the country.

COHEN: It’s just an enormous victory. I mean, people have been calling this a sham for months, for a long time. They’ve been rallying around the slogan “Stop the Sham.” Because for–there was no evidence that this provided any medical benefit to women. The American Medical Association said that, the College of Gynecological and OBGYNs said it provided no benefit. But you just had legislators in Texas and other states being, like, well, you know, this will make the procedure safer, even though it was already a very safe procedure.

So people are just very happy that the justices affirmed what had been very clear to so many for so long.

PERIES: What kind of restrictions did these laws impose on people?

COHEN: There were two main sets of restrictions in this Texas package, and both were knocked down. The first one required that all clinics meet ambulatory surgical standards, which is basically regulations that medical facilities that provide risky surgical operations have to meet. It’s very expensive to get your facility up to AST standards, and given the kind of procedure that an abortion is, and the very, very low risk that the procedure entails, what it effectively did was force many, many clinics to shut down because they couldn’t afford the cost of upgrading their facilities to meet these unnecessary health standards for abortions.

The other one–AST standards and admitting privileges, so that they were requiring health clinics to get admitting privileges into other local hospitals within a certain mile radius, and it ran into all these problems, where local hospitals didn’t want to let the clinics come in. And so then it just forced all of these independent clinics into situations that they couldn’t meet, and that was very clearly the intent of the legislatures at the beginning. They knew they were making–they knew they were asking clinics to do things that they would not be likely to be able to do.

PERIES: All right. Rachel, I thank you so much for joining us today on such short notice, and all the best.

COHEN: Thank you. Bye.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

End

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