Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion clinic regulations

The Supreme Court struck down Texas' widely replicated regulation of abortion clinics Monday in the court's biggest abortion case in nearly a quarter century.

The justices voted 5-3 in favor of Texas clinics that had argued the regulations were a thinly veiled attempt to make it harder for women to get an abortion in the nation's second-most populous state.

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Justice Stephen Breyer's majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman's right to an abortion.

Texas had argued that its 2013 law and subsequent regulations were needed to protect women's health. The rules required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards for outpatient surgery.

Breyer wrote that "the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and constitutes an 'undue burden' on their constitutional right to do so."

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Thomas wrote that the decision "exemplifies the court's troubling tendency 'to bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion, or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.'" Thomas was quoting an earlier abortion dissent from Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

Abortion providers said the rules would have cut the number of abortion clinics in the state by three-fourths if they had been allowed to take full effect.

When then-Gov. Rick Perry signed the law in 2013, there were about 40 clinics throughout the state. That number dropped to under 20 and would have been cut in half again if the law had taken full effect, the clinics said.

Texas is among 10 states with similar admitting privileges requirements, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. The requirement is in effect in most of Texas, Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee. It is on hold in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

The hospital-like outpatient surgery standards are in place in Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and it is blocked in Tennessee and Texas, according to the center, which represented the clinics in the Texas case.

Texas passed a broad bill imposing several abortion restrictions in 2013. Texas clinics sued immediately to block it claiming it impermissibly interfered with a woman's constitutional right to an abortion. The clinics won several favorable rulings in a federal district court in Texas. But each time, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the state, at first allowing challenged provisions to take effect and then upholding the law with only slight exceptions.

The Supreme Court allowed the admitting privileges requirement to take effect in most of the state, but put the surgical center provision on hold pending the court's resolution of the case.

The justices split largely along liberal-conservative lines in their emergency orders, with the court's conservative justices voting repeatedly to let the law be enforced.

Separate lawsuits are pending over admitting-privileges laws in Louisiana and Mississippi, the other states covered by the 5th circuit. The laws are on hold in both states, and a panel of federal appellate judges has concluded the Mississippi law probably is unconstitutional because it would force the only abortion clinic in the state to close.

A separate appeal is pending at the Supreme Court from Wisconsin, where federal judges have struck down that state's admitting privileges law.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago
A good decision for women's health.
Vince Killoran
1 year 5 months ago
Agreed. Bryer's decision was compelling. The flimsy rationale for putting the burdensome requirements in place for clinics probably set the pro-life cause back considerably.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
We have time on our side, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122695016603334449 I believe many of the so-called "culture wars" will be settled by attrition. It may take decades (like the fight against communism), or centuries (like the fight against Arianism). Each of us will die, but our souls go on.
Vince Killoran
1 year 4 months ago
Given your position, I would hope that you spend every waking moment--and as much of your money as possible--fighting for the decriminalization of abortion. Anything less is posturing.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
1) I'm pro-life. Why should I "fight for the decriminalization of abortion"? You know the difference between "decriminalization" and "criminalization"? 2) If your suggestion had any merit, then no one should ever express an opinion unless they are prepared to go all the way. Do you expect critics of female genital mutilation get on a plane and go fight it where it happens? In fact, your logic would demand that everyone focus on a single cause.
Vince Killoran
1 year 4 months ago
I meant re-criminalization! My point is that you have painted abortion as a holocaust happening in our midst. The rote emails and occasional donations to anti-abortion groups (maybe throw in a march or two) doesn't seem nearly enough. My apologies if you don't fit this profile but almost all the pro-life folks I know do. They often use the issue as a way of promoting conservative political candidates. FGM/FGC is horrible but it isn't murder, and it's happening far away. Hence, the lesser levels of protests.
Ryder Charles
1 year 4 months ago
Pope Francis, quoting from Gaudium et Spes, calls abortion an "unspeakable crime". Does he promote "conservative political candidates"? I'm one of those "pro-life folks" you seem to castigate. I am unequivocally against abortion, capital punishment, torture (including water-boarding) and euthanasia. As a Vincentian I've worked with the homeless and the poor. Soon I'll begin working in prison ministry. I personally know other "pro-life folks" who fit this profile that is so different from your stereotype of pro-lifers.
Vince Killoran
1 year 4 months ago
While your more capacious pro-life activism is admirable, you are in the minority. I have encountered many, many people in the pro-life movement over the decades. The evidence of voting behavior bears their GOP leanings. My point, however, was that the kinds of protests, and levels of opposition to abortion, are fairly modest and folded into partisan politics.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
I guess unborn lives don't matter.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
I think that the lives of people matter.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
So we agree. Unborn lives matters because they're people.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
No, we don't agree because I think that while the unborn are becoming people, they are (mostly) not yet people. I think this is the fundamental difference in opinion that separates pro-choice and pro-life.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
So when did you get your rights? Birth? After six months in the womb? When your mother decided to keep you, thus making the transition from blob of tissue or fetus to baby (as in "the baby's kicking")?
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
I don't have answers to all the questions, but when I compare a girl/woman to an embryo/zygote, the idea that both should have the same rights and protections just doesn't make sense. And that's how most people feel - that's why fetal personhood laws have failed. See "The Conflict Between Fetal Personhood Laws and Women's Rights" ... http://www.jurist.org/forum/2011/11/ed-goldman-personhood-laws.php
Carlos Orozco
1 year 4 months ago
But what is YOUR opinion? When does the state have a duty to defend life within the womb? Or must it look the other way when, for example, third trimester abortions are performed?
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
The state defending fetal life - I believe the law is that abortions shouldn't happen after viability of the fetus. Less than 2% of abortions fall into this category. Many states don't allow late term abortions except if the woman's life is in danger, some only allow it if her health is in danger, and some require a second doctor's opinion too. You keep asking what I believe. I don't know absolutely without any doubts what's right, but I "believe" women and girls deserve more consideration than fetuses. If i was in a burning building and only had time to save a frozen embryo or a little girl, there is no doubt in my mind that it would be right to save the little girl .... it wouldn't even be a contest.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
So you don't have a problem with China and India where unborn girls (or female fetuses, embryos, zygotes) are far more likely to be aborted than the male ones. Keep in mind that you were a fetus, an embryo, zygote, and a blob of tissue once. In your hypothetical fire, if you could only save one, would you rather save a baby with Down Syndrome or a healthy one? You can certainly make utilitarian arguments for saving the healthy one over the one with Down Syndrome.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
It isn't about "healthy baby vs disabled baby" ... it's about "girl/woman vs fetus". It isn't about utilitarianism either, it's about trying to do the right thing. We know girls and women are persons, but that can't be said about embryos/fetuses. What creeps me out is the opinion the church seems to have that fetuses are actually worth more than girls and women. When a nine year old girl in Brazil was raped and was pregnant with twins, and when her doctors said her life was in danger unless she had an abortion, the church tried to stop her from getting one. And when they couldn't stop her, they excommunicated her mother and doctors. The archbishop there said ... "Abortion is much more serious than killing an adult. An adult may or may not be an innocent, but an unborn child is most definitely innocent. Taking that life cannot be ignored." .... http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1883598,00.html
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
Crystal ... Crystal ... you should know that hard cases make bad law. How common is abortion for rape, incest, and to save the physical life of the mother? In fact, folks who call themselves pro-life are willing to tolerate abortion for these limited and rare cases. By contrast, the pro-abortion never compromises on anything.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
The church doesn't make exceptions for rape. Another more recent example, an 11 year old rape victim was denied an abortion in Paraguay, a country whose government is essentially controlled by the church. She was forced to have the baby despite the risks and protests from human rights groups. This is our pro-life church. http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/13/americas/paraguay-young-rape-victim-gives-birth/
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
1) A child conceived through rape is innocent. That's why the Church takes the position it does. There's no "rapist gene" that's passed on to offspring. The child is blameless. 2) I'd take it you'd be horrified if convicted rapists were sentenced to death and then executing. If you're against capital punishment for rapists, would it mean that you don't care for rape victims? 99 percent of abortions aren't about rape or incest. 3) So what's your rationale for being against torturing terror suspects who refuse to reveal information about impending terrorist attacks, including the use of WMDs? If one opposes torture or "enhanced interrogation techniques," then does it mean that one has "no compassion" and "doesn't care" about terror victims and saving lives?
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
Yes, I'm against torture and the death penalty. But that doesn't mean that I should also be against abortion, because fetuses are not persons, while prisoners are. This doesn't mean I think their lives don't matter or they should be killed, but when there's a conflict of rights between fetuses and women, I think women's rights should prevail. I guess we will never be able to agree because of the difference in the way we see this basic idea of personhood.
Dimitri Cavalli
1 year 4 months ago
Crystal, Let's say the choice was between a frozen embryo on one side and (one of the following) $1,000 in cash, or a box of cancer medications, or the original Mona Lisa on the other? What would you save, the frozen embryo or the tanigible item, and why? If a frozen or unfrozen embryo has no value, then the embryo's loss or deliberate destruction is meaningless. Then you should pick an item. Your original hypothetical, in choosing to save a little girl or a frozen embryo from a burning building, is faulty. Before picking up the little girl, would you shoot or stab the embryo first, which is what abortion involves, deliberate killing and a sin of commission, not omission. I'm sure you could explain how deliberately killing the embryo in the burning building will stop the fire and help you save the little girl.
Carlos Orozco
1 year 4 months ago
It has always been a mystery to me how, having God humbled himself and Incarnated in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, "pro-choice" Catholics so casually dismiss the unborn, when, as you write, you really don't know anything for sure on the subject.
John Placette
1 year 4 months ago
If you don't know, why not err on the side of life?
Vince Killoran
1 year 4 months ago
These various state measures were an end-run around facts in order to re-criminalize abortion. In their more candid moments the strategists admitted this.
Carlos Orozco
1 year 5 months ago
Behold the "Catholic" Supreme Court. Now imagine it with an additional Obama-appointed abortionist justice.
Joe Kash
1 year 5 months ago
I hope the court is consistent and finds medicare and obamacare unconstitutional because of all of the regulations that in the name of safety and quality make it difficult if not impossible for doctors to have an affordable practice. In my area it is impossible for a doctor to have a solo practice or small practice because of these regulation. But I suspect this decision is not about a legal principle but rather about the sanctity of legal abortion.
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
No, what the decision was about was lying. The lie was that those regulations were put in place to keep women safe. The Court recognized that those regulations were not put in place to keep women safe but to restrict legal abortion. That is why the Court, given medical evidence, decided as it did. See this in The Atlantic ... "The Fictions Around Abortion in America" ... http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/supreme-court-abortion-texas/488894/
Joe Kash
1 year 4 months ago
And the SCOTUS is the thought police that determines who is lying and who is telling the truth. Well I think my politicians lie to me all of the time. They lied about Obamacare and they lie about Medicare. They are driving solo practitioners out of business. They are forcing small groups to consolidate with big corporate entities in order to absorb the cost of all of these preposterous so called safety and quality regulations. They are using the force of these regulations to limit what care will be covered and what will not be covered. The access to certain types of SCOTUS sanctified care such as abortion and birth control will be 100% but the access to types of care that the SCOTUS does not deem to be sacred are left up to our lying politicians. This SCOTUS decision is a religious decision. The SCOTUS have decided that their belief that abortion is a sacred right needs to be protected at all cost. And a great cost it is!
Ryder Charles
1 year 4 months ago
The Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, had this to say about abortion: "For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes." (paragraph 51) Pope Francis has also called abortion an "unspeakable crime": Quoting the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said: "From the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes." http://www.christiantoday.com/article/abortion.and.infanticide.are.unspeakable.crimes.says.pope/36804.htm
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
The church has its opinions about abortion, but there is no mention of it in the bible and little in the bible to use as back-up for the church's stance on abortion ... "What Dos the Bible Really Say About Abortion?" ... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-joel-hoffman/what-does-the-bible-really-say-about-abortion_b_8076790.html
Ryder Charles
1 year 4 months ago
Deleted accidental double post.
Ryder Charles
1 year 4 months ago
Crystal, I find it baffling when progressives suddenly embrace "sola scriptura' when it suits their needs. The Church develops its beliefs and teachings through Scripture, Tradition (with a capital "T") and the Magisterium (the teaching authority it received from Christ). There is no mention of "sola scriptura" in Scripture. On the other hand, Scripture does speak of the authority of Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church: "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." (2 Thess 2:15) "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth." (1 Tim 3:14-15) The Bible doesn't mention the term "nuclear weapons" but that doesn't mean it's OK to use them. There are numerous passages in Scripture that can by used to support the prohibition against abortion: Jer.1:5; Ps 139:13-14; Luke 1:35. I'm against abortion, torture (including water boarding that isn't mentioned in Scripture) capital punishment and euthanasia. I know that you are against most of these things as well. I think you are fine with abortion rights because you subscribe to progressive orthodoxies. Again, progressives grumble about those who adhere to Catholic dogma but fail to see when they have become creatures of their preferred ideologies. I know that you are a compassionate person. I urge you to prayerfully reconsider you position on abortion. Peace
Crystal Watson
1 year 4 months ago
I wasn't raised a Catholic so I may not be typical, but I do care about what's in the gospels and I care about NT scholarship. But I don't have much respect for Tradition, I guess.

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