The United States Supreme Court in a 5-3 decision handed down Monday struck down a Texas law that would have severely limited the number of abortion clinics in the state. A law professor from the University of Kansas, Lumen “Lou” Mulligan explains the provisions of the law that were in question.
“First, the Texas law stated that abortion facilities, the doctors who work there had to have admitting privileges at a hospital, which was a change in prior law, and that those admitting privileges at a hospital had to be within 30 miles of the clinic,” Mulligan said. Secondly, the state law required that those clinics be the equivalent of a surgical center, which was a substantial upgrade from the law’s point of view, in the type of facility that they had to have.”
The trial court found that, because of this law, Texas was going from forty abortion clinics to perhaps seven, maybe eight. This would have limited those clinics to the cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. These clinics could not meet the in-state need. Distances to clinics for women would double. It would cost each of these clinics somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million to $1.5 million to comply.
Mulligan explained the point of Constitutional law that the court was addressing.
“Unnecessary regulations, which create substantial obstacles impose an undue burden on women’s constitutional right to an abortion,” Mulligan said. “The Supreme Court found in light of those statistics, that this was an undue burden.”
To put it in laymen’s terms, the law was written so narrowly that it was too restrictive of a woman’s right to an abortion.
“The Court looked and said, you’re closing between seventy-five and eighty percent of all the clinics in the state of Texas through this regulation,” Mulligan said. “This isn’t regulating for the health and safety of women seeking abortions. This is just closing abortion clinics. That’s how the Supreme Court looked at it.”
The Dallas Morning News says the state has 18 remaining clinics. They are mostly located in big metropolitan areas.