Wrapping up the final week of the term, a divided Supreme Court threw out a Texas law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals with a mandate that clinics must also meet the same strict standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
The court ruled 5-3, with conservative Justices Roberts, Thomas and Alito dissenting.
Critics of the law had argued that it would have disproportionately impacted low income women who must travel greater distances to find a clinic that meets the new tougher standards. According to the petitioners, the new law violated the undue burden standard established in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Texas lawmakers defended the law, saying it is meant to protect women’s health.
In a recent speech at Duke University Law School, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that access to reproductive care is not a problem for women who are financially secure.
“Let’s assume Roe v. Wade were overruled, and we were going back to each state for itself,” Ginsburg stated. “Any woman who could travel from her home state to a state that provides access to abortion, and those states never go back to old ways. So if you can afford a plane ticket, a train ticket or even a bus ticket, you can control your own destiny, but if you’re locked into your native state, then maybe you can’t.”
The decision in the case, known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, overturns a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which approved parts, but not all of the law as it was originally written.