How the SCOTUS abortion decision will affect providers

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-3 Monday to strike down two provisions of a Texas law because they placed a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions.  

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," said Justice Stephen Breyer in delivering the Court opinion.

The first of the two provisions at issue involved requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The second provision required abortion clinics to have comparable facilities to ambulatory surgical centers. Proponents of the law said it would have protected women's health. Opponents said it would have reduced Texas abortion clinics from 40 to seven or eight, potentially overflowing those that would have been able to remain open.

"In truth, 'complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous,'" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in the concurring opinion. Evidence provided to the court demonstrated abortion in Texas was extremely safe before the law was implemented, with low complication rates and "virtually no deaths," according to the opinion of the Court. As such, it ruled that the provisions would not improve women's health and would instead impose burden on women seeking abortions, particularly for poor, rural or disadvantaged women who would have to travel further to a viable clinic.

"That 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,'" Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the dissent, quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

As a result of this ruling, abortion clinics will not be held to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, which will keep many clinics in Texas open, and providers will not be required to have admitting privileges to perform an abortion.    


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