Setting up what could be a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up a legal challenge to Texas’ 2013 abortion law, which could shut down about half of the state’s 19 remaining abortion clinics.
The restrictions, passed as part of House Bill 2, would require that Texas abortion facilities meet hospital-like ambulatory surgical center standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia, and other modifications. A separate provision, which has already gone into effect, requires doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.
A coalition of abortion providers has sued the state, saying the restrictions are unconstitutional. State attorneys say the measure was passed to improve the safety of abortions and to ensure women are getting the highest standard of health care.
If the Supreme Court had declined to take up the case, half of the abortion clinics in the state would have been forced to shut down overnight. That would have left Texas with about 10 abortion clinics — all in major metropolitan areas.
The clinics will remain open until the court hears the case and issues a ruling. A decision is expected within the next year.
“Although this is the first step in a much longer process, I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the rights that have been in place for four decades and reaffirm that every woman should be able to make her own decision about continuing or ending a pregnancy,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, the lead plaintiff in the case.
See here, here, and here for the most recent updates. The stakes are as high as they can be, but for SCOTUS to not hear the appeal means the state wins by default, so there was no better option. We’re just going to have to live with that low-level dread until next June. ThinkProgress, the Observer, the AusChron, RH Reality Check, the Press, Daily Kos, the Current, and PDiddie have more.