In a brief, five-sentence ruling, the Supreme Court has blocked a Texas law that was forcing many abortion providers to close.
“Tomorrow, 13 clinics across the state will be allowed to reopen and provide women with safe and legal abortion care in their own communities,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, told The New York Times, adding, “This fight against Texas’ sham abortion law is not over.”
On October 2, an appeals court ruling allowed the state's anti-abortion law (called HB2) to go into effect. Signed into law last year by Governor Rick Perry — after a legendary attempt at filibustering that brought Wendy Davis to national prominence — HB2 includes some of the nation's most prohibitive (and, critics charge, unnecessary) restrictions on abortion. Mainly, it requires that clinics make expensive upgrades to meet the criteria for "ambulatory surgical centers" in order to stay open. It also mandates that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a local hospital and includes many other regulations pertaining to clinics' staff and equipment.
The law closed more than a dozen clinics immediately, leaving only eight open. With 4.5 million women of reproductive age in Texas, it placed 900,000 of them more than 150 miles from a clinic that provided abortion, and left some of the state's poorest areas — including the entire Rio Grande Valley and western half of the state — without access.
Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. were noted as saying they would have denied the appeal and allowed the clinics to close. But, today's SCOTUS ruling allows the clinics to stay open while the appeals case proceeds. (The New York Times)