Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions

Supreme Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions
Ruling has implications for the future of clinics in Louisiana

New Orleans, LA (June 27, 2016) – Today the Supreme Court ruled inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a historic challenge to a Texas law designed to close abortion clinics. The 5-3 ruling affirmed a woman’s constitutional right and ability to make her own decisions about her health, family, and future, no matter where she lives.

Texas’ law, known as HB2, shuttered half of the more than 40 abortion providers in the state in 2014; the second restriction contained in HB2, which would have required all abortions to be performed in surgical centers, would have left Texas with as few as 9 providers. The Supreme Court blocked the law from taking effect allowing some of the clinics to remain open while the legal challenge continued. The Court heard oral arguments in the case in March of this year.

One of the provisions of Texas’s law required all abortion providers to obtain local hospital admitting privileges. A similar law was passed in Louisiana in 2014, but it was blocked by a federal judge. In late February, the Fifth Circuit granted an emergency request by Louisiana’s Attorney General to overrule the lower court, allowing the law to take effect and leaving only two clinics open – each with only one provider meeting the requirements. The same week it heard oral arguments in the Texas case, the Supreme Court stepped in to block Louisiana’s law, allowing clinics to reopen.  Today, the Supreme Court declared that both of Texas’ restrictions on abortion are medically unnecessary and unconstitutional.

The Louisiana admitting privileges law remains enjoined as a result of the Supreme Court’s prior action, while the appeal of the case remains pending at the Fifth Circuit. Today’s ruling provides a hopeful prospect that Louisiana’s law will also be overturned.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling reaffirms a woman’s constitutional right and ability to access safe, legal abortion no matter where she lives, or who her legislators are,”  stated Amy Irvin, Executive Director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund. “Each legislative session, Louisiana politicians pass an array of antichoice laws, which effectively put abortion out of reach for the most marginalized women in our community. Today’s Supreme Court ruling puts Louisiana politicians on notice, and demonstrates how deeply out of touch they are with our country’s values.”

“This is a win for women, but it does not undo the past five years of damage and 317 abortion restrictions already written into law. As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood has seen the devastating consequences for women in states like Texas and Louisiana where lawmakers have restricted access to abortion,” stated Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “Today, the Supreme Court has made it clear that politicians cannot pass laws to block access to safe, legal abortion. We believe every person must have the right to make their own personal decisions about abortion, and we will fight like hell to ensure they do.”

“The ruling is an important first step in dismantling medically unnecessary laws designed to make it harder for women to end a pregnancy, but as long as Louisiana’s lawmakers continue to pass these sham laws, we will continue our work to protect safe and legal access to clinics,” Michelle Erenberg, Executive Director of Lift Louisiana agreed.

The Louisiana legislature passed several new laws this session that will impact abortion access, from delaying care by tripling the state-imposed waiting period to banning a safe and common second-trimester procedure. Advocates testified that these laws were likely to face costly court challenges, but, even with the state budget crisis, anti-choice legislators were not deterred.

The ruling today makes it clear that states cannot impose restrictions intended to force quality, safe abortion care providers to stop providing needed care. This ruling will impact legal challenges in the future and help to prevent other such restrictions from being enacted.

“This is a wonderful day for women in the U.S. Your zip code should not determine your health care options. I am glad the Supreme Court has seen through efforts to TRAP women needing care and the doctors who care for them by drowning them in unnecessary restrictions aimed at cutting off access to abortion as part of their reproductive options,” says Angela Adkins, Legislative Director, Louisiana National Organization for Women.

Contact:

Michelle Erenberg, (504) 484-9636, Lift Louisiana

Angela Adkins, (225) 324-0094, Louisiana National Organization for Women

Amy Irvin, (504) 914-7539, New Orleans Abortion Fund

Kirby Smith (504) 390-3243, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast

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