Thursday, June 30, 2016
The US Supreme Court this week ruled unconstitutional a 2013 Texas law requiring hospital-grade facilities in abortion clinics and hospital admitting privileges for their physicians within 30 miles of the clinic citing “an undue burden on women abortion access” guaranteed under the constitution. In his comment, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that the law did not offer evidence that it protected women’s health or led to better treatment. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg opined that it was “beyond rational belief“ that these provisions were designed to protect women’s health, let alone withstand careful judicial scrutiny under Roe v. Wade. The Court also rejected appeals from Wisconsin and Mississippi that sought to overturn lower court rulings blocking restrictions on doctors who perform abortions.
In an attempt to restrict abortions, a number of states have instituted measures such as banning certain types of procedures, prohibiting abortions after a certain number of weeks of gestation, requiring parental consent or notification for minors seeking abortions, and enforcing waiting periods, mandatory counseling, transvaginal ultrasounds, and listening to the fetus's heartbeat. Whether the Court’s most recent ruling will encourage pro-choice activists to challenge these and other restrictive state laws or motivate the pro-life community to develop new strategies to limit abortions remains to be seen. But, if history is any guide, both sides in this controversial issue will likely continue to battle it out.
Photo credit: KEVIN LAMARQUE / Reuters
Judith Wolf, MD
Associate Director, WHEP