The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit challenging regulations in Texas that require abortion clinics to adhere to the same medical standards as ambulatory surgical centers. The 2013 law, which has never been fully enforced due to ongoing court challenges, also requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
The petitioner, Whole Woman’s Health, is an abortion provider that wants the court to strike down the new requirements because it asserts the requirements are an “undue burden” on women who wish to abortion their unborn babies.
This case is the most significant abortion case to reach the Supreme Court since 2007, when the court ruled that partial-birth abortion can be outlawed in all 50 states because it does not impose an “undue burden” upon women.
The “undue burden” threshold for abortion was established in 1992 when the court reaffirmed that states can impose regulations on abortion clinics as long as they do not put an undue burden on women. This rationale is what’s driving the current petition to override Texas’ legislature.
If the court sides with the abortion provider, the decision would have a major impact on what states are allowed to regulate when it comes to abortion. In Roe vs. Wade, the court said state legislatures are allowed to regulate how abortion providers operate. The court ruled that states can impose restrictions on “the performing physician and his staff, to the facilities involved, to the availability of after-care, and to adequate provision for any complication or emergency that may arise.”
Abortion proponents decry these health regulations as an orchestrated attack by Republican legislatures seeking to chip away at what they say is a constitutional right to abortion on demand, but several women have died or nearly died from a botched abortions in clinics that didn’t have competent clinicians, adequate facilities, or sanitary conditions.
One woman died after she underwent an abortion at the hands of Kermit Gosnell, the infamous abortionist who was sentenced to two life sentences in 2013 for snipping the necks of babies who survived botched abortions. His clinic, which was found to be filthy and blood-spattered, did not have hallways wide enough for a stretcher to take the woman out of the clinic. She died while under his care as a result.
The Court is expected to release its decision by next June.