Here’s What The SCOTUS Abortion Ruling Means For Reproductive Rights
Before the Supreme Court wrapped up its term, there was one major issue it had to decide on: abortion. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt centered around Texas’ HB2 law containing two strict and unnecessary requirements for abortion clinics that make it even more difficult for them to stay open, and the Court struck down the law Monday. Here’s what the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling means for Texas, abortion clinics across the country, and your womb. This is a big fucking deal.
HB2, passed in 2013, dictated that abortion providers in the state must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and must comply with requirements for ambulatory surgical centers. These are known as “TRAP” laws — targeted regulation of abortion providers that aren’t at all medically necessary and only serve to make abortions even more inaccessible for women. Whole Women’s Health, the privately-owned organization challenging HB2, argued that the law doesn’t promote women’s health and would force abortion clinics across Texas to close, leaving less than 10 in a state with more than 5 million women of reproductive age.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is so monumental because Texas is far from the only state to institute anti-abortion laws disguised as public health initiatives.
Including Texas, 24 states have TRAP laws on the books that cut away from the right to choose gifted to every woman in America by Roe v. Wade. Of those 24 states, 22 have licensing standards for abortion clinics similar to those of ambulatory surgical centers, just like HB2 demands. There are also 14 states that require clinics to have some affiliation with a nearby hospital, five of which force providers to have admitting privileges at those hospitals. All of these laws were in jeopardy depending on SCOTUS’s ruling.
The ruling was the biggest decision on reproductive rights since Roe v. Wade, and will have a major impact on women’s access to abortion. First of all, the Texas laws became void, which allows Texas’s current abortion clinics to remain open and service women in the state. All the similar TRAP laws in other states are effectually deemed unconstitutional too, relieving a huge burden on providers in those 24 states.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruled in 1992 that states can’t place undue burdens on the right to abortion before a fetus is viable, but allowed states to regulate abortion in the name of health. Texas and other states with TRAP laws argue that their anti-abortion laws protect the health of women and are therefore constitutional, but this new ruling set them straight. Texas’s HB2 went too far and in fact jeopardized women’s health by severely limiting their access to reproductive health care.
Abortion rights activists were obviously thrilled by the 5-3 ruling that, in the large scope of things, declared the conservative war on abortion unconstitutional. In 2014 alone, state legislatures proposed 335 anti-abortion bills — so you can see how dedicated right-wing politicians are to regulating your uterus. This ruling certainly won’t stop Republicans from continuing their attempts to make an abortion a million times harder to obtain than a gun, but it will place harsher limits on what types of regulations they can enact.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will go down in history as the Supreme Court decision that reinforced women’s right to an abortion before a fetus is viable, striking down and preventing further anti-abortion laws that force clinics to close or make it harder for providers to do their job.