Demonstrators celebrate at the U.S. Supreme Court after the court struck down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities that its critics contended were specifically designed to shut down clinics in Washington on June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-SCOTUS-ABORTION, originally transmitted on June 27, 2016.

Supreme Court strikes down abortion restrictions

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court delivered its most significant ruling on abortion in a generation Monday (June 27), striking down restrictions on Texas clinics and doctors that threatened to make the procedure more difficult for women to access.

The divided court, acting on the last day of a term in which it became shorthanded after the death ofJustice Antonin Scalia, ruled 5-3 that the Texas law's restrictions go beyond the type permitted under the court's 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

The ruling could have an impact beyond the Lone Star State by prompting legislatures and courts to reconsider other limits on abortion. Legislatures across the nation have imposed some 250 restrictions in the past five years.

Justice Stephen Breyer ruled for the majority that states cannot impose restrictions that pose an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The Texas restrictions, which threatened to close all but nine clinics capable of complying with the tough new standards, would leave the state unable to handle an estimated 65,000 to 70,000 abortions a year.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Breyer said. "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access ... and each violates the federal Constitution."

Breyer was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

The state had argued that the restrictions -- requiring clinics to meet surgical-center operating standards and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals -- were necessary to protect women's health. Abortion rights advocates said that by adding delays and distance to the obstacles women face, the medical risks would only rise.

The ruling could have an immediate impact on other cases that had been working their way toward the Supreme Court from Louisiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin and several more states in which restrictions have been challenged by abortion rights supporters.

Restrictions on abortion imposed by conservative state legislatures range from 24-hour waiting periods and parental notification laws, mostly upheld by lower courts, to bans on abortion after six or 12 weeks, which courts have blocked.

The Texas case loomed large on the high court's docket this term. It offered the justices their best opportunity in a generation to define more clearly the types of restrictions states can impose under the court's 1992 ruling.

The Texas law was among the toughest in the nation. About half of the state's more than 40 clinics already had closed because of the admitting privileges restriction. Critics claimed further reductions under the surgical center restriction would tempt more women to self-induce abortions, undergo risky procedures or carry unwanted pregnancies to term.

While both restrictions had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the Supreme Court blocked enforcement last June while the case was under consideration. By then, however, many clinics had closed and were unable to reopen.

During oral arguments, the court's four liberal justices left little doubt they would vote to strike down the law. Without Scalia, that meant the court could not issue a 5-4 decision establishing a national precedent that would allow tougher standards for abortion clinics nationwide.

The justices have maintained a tenuous balancing act when it comes to limiting abortion rights. They have upheld most restrictions, including a federal ban on late-term abortions, while at the same time blocking the most severe consequences of Texas and Louisiana laws that had been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

Had the high court allowed the Texas law to take effect, only 10 clinics would have remained to serve more than 5 million women of reproductive age. Nine of the clinics would have been clustered in Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, with one heavily-restricted clinic allowed to stay open near the Mexico border in McAllen. Both clinics in El Paso would have been closed, forcing women to seek abortions in New Mexico.

The case was among the most controversial to reach the court this term. More than 1,000 demonstrators, mostly women, protested outside the court when the case was heard in early March. Among dozens of briefs submitted to the court were several in which women recounted their own abortion experiences — successful lawyers and professionals defending the decisions they made early in life, as well as others who said they came to regret the procedures.

The last major case involving abortion was decided in 2007, when the justices upheld a federal law banning late-term — so-called "partial birth" — abortions. Kennedy wrote the 5-4 opinion, famously asserting that "some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained."

(Richard Wolf writes for USA Today)


  1. Why does Christian conservativism delight in making other’s lives miserable?

  2. “…the Supreme Court blocked enforcement last June while the case was under consideration. By then, however, many clinics had closed and were unable to reopen.”

    I wonder whether the owners of those clinics have any legal recourse to recover damages from the loss of their businesses due to the unconstitutional restrictions imposed by the Texas law.

  3. Because its easier than doing what Jesus said?
    Because nothing needs minding so much as other people’s business?

  4. With a baby body-bag count of over 55 million, you’ve got quite a few “lives made miserable” already.

    Aborted babies, and aborted mothers and daddies and aunties too. Birth control gone malicious. Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood lines their yearly pockets with more cash than what some smaller American cities have ever seen.

    Good job, America. Your reward will come soon.

  5. When 50 gay nightclub patrons die from an AR-15 shooting, you don’t run around saying “mind your own business.” You and the other gay activists try to make it everybody’s business.

    Well, some people feel equally determined about millions of human babies getting killed (and their mothers getting sliced & diced, wounded and emotionally scarred) just to score some mega-bucks for pure profit.

  6. “Well, some people feel equally determined about human babies getting killed (and their mother getting physically and emotionally wounded and scarred) just to score some mega-bucks.”

    You said it, not me. The anti abortion industry has been grifting along for 40 odd years, hasn’t accomplished a thing, but has gotten very rich in the process.

    It is always about power, money, and dominion with fundamentalists.

  7. The physical and emotional wounding is done by those who guilt trip a woman over something which is none of their effing business, utilizing the prevarication that a fetus is equivalent to a human, and its rights supersede that of the woman. I challenge the writer to provide evidence of the alleged “mega-bucks.” Lies from hucksters like David Dadalen and Lila Rose do not count.

  8. That’s like saying vacuuming day is sad for doghair.

  9. Doesn’t sound like you’ve much experience with city budgets. Or with how to read a 1099. Revenue into Planned Parenthood goes right back into services. I just made a $100 donation in your honor to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri to offset the legal costs of fighting the nuisance lawsuits from legislators who need to mind their own business.

  10. Do you volunteer to be buried as the pre-dead?

  11. Thank you for admitting the rationale for the TRAP laws were complete BS designed as a way to deny women their legally protected right to an abortion. The Supreme Court rightfully noted these laws did not have to do with safety and medical professional standards.

  12. You are welcome your opinion. But it doesn’t mean you have a right or privilege to be involved in the decisions of pregnant women. None of your business. Don’t like abortions, don’t have them. Self righteous furor is not equal legal right or power to decide for others.

  13. Fetus worshipers always like to pretend women don’t really exist or their lives are of no consequence. Very single minded, wrong headed and callous. Anti abortion views are more of a character flaw than political position.

  14. You claim to love the unborn yet you contrive to have the living to have short miserable lives for your vengeful, so false, God.

  15. Funny thing is they want to play the harlot but forget about FREE birth control. So I ask all the harlots please raise their hands…..oh wait………

  16. You haven’t got a clue how much Planned Parenthood makes off the taxpayers, do you?

  17. Planned Parenthood, anyone?

    Or is somebody on their PAYROLL already ??

  18. Actually, the TAXPAYERS are the ones paying the nine -figure tab (via the back door) for Planned Parenthood’s creepy pastime. And speaking of “services”, this past February PP spent at least seven figures on HILLARY ads in 3 states. Yeah, that’s some real “services” !!

    That’s why PP got so scared when people were recommending that they get defunded. All their blood money and political games potentially going right down the drain. Must have shocked them senseless.

    No wonder their patron saint Obama had to rescue them!!

  19. Obviously YOU don’t have any children (nor access to a biology textbook) or you would know that genetically the baby belongs to BOTH the man and the woman.

    You would also know that saying “Mind your own business” doesn’t apply to life and death social issues, including the killing of babies and the scarring of their mothers, daddies, and grandparents. You don’t have to care, but don’t knock others who do.

  20. You would done better to give the money to Birthright of Kansas, but I guess wiping out babies is higher priority than providing needed supplies to their young mothers.

  21. Control, control, control.
    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

  22. “nothing needs minding so much as other people’s business”
    That one really ought to be in Proverbs.

  23. Obviously you don’t realize none of that matters one bit. As long as a fetus is in a woman’s womb, it is her choice and her choice alone as to whether it gets born. Unless you can take possession of a fetus, it’s not your decision. She bears all the burdens of a pregnancy, you do not.

    Being a self righteous nabobs does not ever entitle you to make personal decisions for others. Ever.

    You don’t like women having abortions, tough sh!t. It’s not in your body. It will never require your say. Babies are born. A fetus is not. If you are not the one carrying the fetus, your concerns are not even close to as important as the woman who does in this regard.

    Your problem is you have no respect for the lives of people and think everyone must do as they say. Pure narcissism.

  24. Virtually nothing. Unlike the books of any given anti abortion religious group, PP keeps its finances public and above board.

  25. Funny how when PP was brought before a congressional hearing on possible wrongdoing and improprieties, in front of a pack of howling republican fetus worshipers, they walked away without a scratch. The head of PP practically did a mic drop on them. You don’t have squat on them. Whenever this stuff gets aired in public, dishonest and hysterical fetus worshipers always come off badly.

  26. You haven’t a clue how much grifting politicians, masquerading as men of faith, religious organizations masquerading as non profits, and political organizations masquerading as religious ones make off the tax payers, do you?

    And let us not leave out the tax exempt churches with their billions in properties, their billions in tax free money’s that they use for political purposes make off the taxpayers, do you?

    And let us not leave out all of those fine recipients of corporate welfare.

  27. It,s from one of my two favorite saints, St. MArk Twain. the other is St. OScar Levant.

  28. Sincd that does not happen, they are determined about nothing.

  29. I wouldn’t give a nickel to those charlatans.

  30. Compared to religious right grifters their finances are about as ethical as could be possible.

  31. Since a fetus is not a person all this fury is for nothing.

  32. I’d glady take a bullet for an abortion doctor from another terrorist like you.

  33. Talk radio rots your brain. This post is proof of that.

  34. Thus you reveal it’s all about the slut-shaming with you fetus fetishists.

  35. You’re preaching to the choir, Reverend.

  36. You’re correct I don’t support slut’s nor those that defend them being blockish. Which is why I will never support government support for abortions. Our tax dollars were never meant to support those that think and act like everybody else is responsible for your mistakes time and time again. Yeah I know you’re stuck doing the same foolish things over and over and expect a different outcome which only proves just how insane libtards truly are..

  37. Yeah you libtars always make those empty claims because you have no science to back up your propaganda.

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