Reproductive health advocates celebrate the ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning.

Reproductive health advocates celebrate the ruling at the U.S. Supreme Court Monday morning. Photo by Veronica Zutic

The U. S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law Monday that imposed unnecessary restrictions on facilities and clinicians at reproductive health clinics and blocked access to abortion for women across the state.

The measure H.B. 2, required that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and that providers meet building standards required of ambulatory surgical centers. With the court’s 5-3 ruling, these measures were deemed unnecessary and unfair to women seeking abortions.

The landmark ruling has implications for a number of other states with similar laws.

Justice Stephen Breyer provided the majority opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, writing that under H.B. 2, the restrictions on access to abortion create an “undue burden” for women.

“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” he wrote. “Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access…and each violates the Federal Constitution.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg provided a concurring opinion, highlighting the safety of abortion as a medical procedure, and stating, “Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law ‘would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.’”

APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, praised the Supreme Court’s ruling in a press release, stating that the ruling would act as a safeguard to women’s reproductive health.

“Today’s decision means that safe, local reproductive health care cannot be denied based on out-of-touch medical practices that serve no benefit to public health,” said Benjamin. “APHA will continue to call on policymakers to reject laws like H.B. 2 that reduce access to vital reproductive health services. Simply put, limiting access creates poorer health outcomes for women, their partners, their families and the health of the public.”

Other reproductive health advocacy organizations celebrated the decision with responses:

  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund: “Today’s victory means we can fight state by state, legislature by legislature, law by law, and restore women’s access to reproductive health care. It means attempts to eliminate women’s access to safe, legal abortion have been stopped in their tracks.”
  • National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association: “Today’s decision recognizes the harmful burdens HB2 and laws like it can place on women’s right to choose abortion. Abortion has been a constitutional right for all women since 1973. During a time when a woman’s fundamental right to choose has come under repeated attack, today’s decision is a major victory toward ensuring access to safe, legal abortions to all women in communities across the country, no matter where they live.”
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “ACOG applauds the US Supreme Court for a decision that will help to protect women’s access to abortion care in Texas and across the country. As the court found, it was clear that the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges requirements at the heart of Texas law HB 2 did not improve the safety of women, and served only as a barrier to women’s ability to access safe, legal abortion when needed.”
  • Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice: “We are very pleased with today’s decision. It is a vitally important judicial affirmation of a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices and to access abortion care. At the same time, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is deeply concerned about the future of reproductive freedom because on these issues the extreme religious and moral views of the religious right have dominated America’s public debate.”
  • National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health: “Today’s Supreme Court ruling reaffirms every person’s constitutional right to make their own decisions about their health, family and future. The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is thrilled by today’s decision. This decision will remove some barriers to reproductive healthcare access for the 2.5 million Latinas of reproductive age in Texas who have been disproportionately impacted by HB 2. We are thrilled the Supreme Court stood with our community in protecting this right, but the fight to protect abortion access does not end today and it will not end until everyone has access to unfettered, high quality reproductive health care, including abortion”