Supreme Court suspends Texas law that would have closed half of its abortion facilities
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – About half of the abortion facilities in Texas got a reprieve from the Supreme Court on its last day in session.
Justices ruled 5-4 that, right now, the state of Texas may not enforce health protection laws that would have put all but nine of the state's abortion offices out of business. The court's conservative bloc – Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito – objected, but Anthony Kennedy cast the decisive vote with the court's liberals.
At issue is whether the state may require abortionists to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and require abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety codes as other ambulatory surgical centers.
The temporary stay of Senate Bill 5 lasts until the justices decide whether they will hear an appeal from the abortion industry, which argues the law's provisions would unduly restrict a woman's access to abortion-on-demand.
“The U.S. Supreme Court was swayed, not for the first time in a week, by illogical arguments,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “By actively lobbying against common sense regulations that would make sure women have access to ‘safe, legal and rare’ abortions, Planned Parenthood and their allies are making a mockery of women’s health care.”
“The abortion industry cares only for their bottom line, and women and their prenatal children are merely dollar signs in their business cycle,” Hawkins said.
"Women and babies are being denied protections with the Supreme Court blocking pro-life legislation,” said Lila Rose of Live Action. “Contrary to what big abortion organizations would have us believe, the possible closure of abortion facilities is due to the refusal of these corporations to adhere to sensible and ordinary medical precautions. We look forward to the day that both the legislature and the Courts use their power to protect the most vulnerable among us."
State pro-life leaders regret the loopholes that they say put women's health at risk.
“Unfortunately, women who do not have abortions at any of the nine operating ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions will continue to be subjected to substandard medical care,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life.
The ruling does not permanently enjoin the state. It does not even guarantee justices will hear the case.
Should they decline, the law will go into effect in its entirety.
Last October, the Supreme Court allowed Texas to implement these measures while the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered its decision in a 6-3 verdict. However, it added that the state must allow abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen to operate subpar operations, defying greater protections for women, because closing those facilities would require women to drive a great distance to the next nearest abortion facility.
Earlier this month, a three-panel judge of the appeals court, based in New Orleans, upheld the health regulations. All three judges had been appointed by President George W. Bush.
Had the full requirements gone into effect, half of all the remaining abortion facilities in Texas would have closed.
The left-wing website ThinkProgress worried, if the High Court upheld the decision, it would mean that “Roe v. Wade is almost entirely dead.”
Today, representatives of the abortion lobby felt relief. "Our Constitution rightly protects women from laws that would create barriers to safe and legal abortion care, but Texas politicians have tried to sneak around the Constitution with sham regulations designed to close clinics’ doors," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a pro-life Republican, vowed to “continue to fight for higher-quality health care standards for women while protecting our most vulnerable – the unborn.”
“I’m confident the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold this law,” he added.