Monday, June 27, 2016

The Supreme Court Strikes Down a Texas Abortion Law

In a surprise ruling today, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion access law (see this blog March 2, 2016) that severely restricted access to abortions in that state. The decision was a surprise because the court currently has only eight members, and it was widely believed that the court would be deadlocked on the issue until a ninth justice could be appointed after the presidential election.

Ever since Roe v. Wade, anti-abortionists have introduced legislation in many states designed to restrict access to abortion or make it more difficult. By striking down Texas's law, the court is signaling the states that they cannot restrict access to abortion simply by putting unnecessary obstacles in the way. In the majority opinion, Justice Breyer wrote, "We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits to women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an "undue burden" on their constitutional right to do so."

This new Supreme Court sets a fairly high bar for anti-abortion legislation; it must not introduce an "undue burden" on what is clearly a constitutional right.

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