Monday, June 29, 2015
Supreme Court Puts Texas Abortion Law on Hold
Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with Texas abortion providers and temporarily put on hold a ruling that would have closed about half of the state’s abortion facilities.
There were 19 abortion providers performing the procedure in Texas as of earlier this month.
Abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013 require Texas' abortion facilities to meet hospital-like standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other infrastructure. Only a handful of Texas abortion clinics — all in major metropolitan areas — meet those standards.
On June 9, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld most provisions of the state's strict abortion law, and then denied a request from abortion providers to delay the implementation of the abortion restrictions until they appealed to the high court. Abortion providers then turned to the Supreme Court, asking it to intervene before the restrictions were set to go into effect on Wednesday.
The appellate court did carve out an exception from most of the ambulatory surgical center standards for the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen and granted one of the McAllen clinic’s doctors a reprieve from a separate provision of the law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.
“The justices have preserved Texas women’s few remaining options for safe and legal abortion care for the moment," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of Texas abortion providers. "Now it’s time to put a stop to these clinic shutdown laws once and for all."
The Texas attorney general's office, which is representing the state in court, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The high court voted 5-4 to put the ruling on hold, with Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito voting against the delay.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.