June 27, 2016
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’ admitting privileges and surgical-center requirement anti-abortion laws by a vote of 5-3 today. The court found both laws unconstitutional because they do place “undue burden” on women seeking abortion access in the state.
"The record contains sufficient evidence that the admitting-privileges requirement led to the closure of half of Texas’ clinics, or thereabouts," http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/15-274_p8k0.pdf">the majority opinion says. "Those closures meant fewer doctors, longer waiting times, and increased crowding. Record evidence also supports the finding that after the admitting-privileges provision went into effect, the 'number of women of reproductive age living in a county . . . more than 150 miles from a provider...'"
In her concurring opinion Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, "When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety."
In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the court for tinkering with levels of scrutiny in their ruling.
"If our recent cases illustrate anything, it is how easily the Court tinkers with levels of scrutiny to achieve its desired result," he wrote. "This Term, it is easier for a State to survive strict scrutiny despite discriminating on the basis of race in college admissions than it is for the same State to regulate how abortion doctors and clinics operate under the putatively less stringent undue-burden test."
Mississippi's admitting privileges law, which is still tied up in the Supreme Court could be affected by the ruling. The Center for Reproductive Rights said in a press release that similar laws in Mississippi and Louisiana will be found 'likely unconstitutional.'
"Today’s ruling is entirely consistent with lower court rulings in challenges to similar laws in Mississippi and Louisiana which found the measures likely unconstitutional," http://www.reproductiverights.org/press-room/us-supreme-court-strikes-down-texas-clinic-shutdown-law-in-historic-victory-for-women">the press release states. "The clinics in those states will remain open while the litigation continues."
Mississippi state leaders, http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2016/jun/15/planned-parenthood-sues-mississippi-over-defunding/">who supported a Planned Parenthood Medicaid defunding law this session, voiced their outcry to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
"I am disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today," Gov. Phil Bryant said on Twitter. "This measure is designed to protect the health and safety of women who undergo this potentially dangerous procedure, and physicians who provide abortions should be held to the same standards as physicians who perform other outpatient procedures."
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn agreed with the governor's remarks.
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today endangers the lives of women and their unborn children in Mississippi and all across America,” Reeves said in a statement. “States should have the ability to protect their citizens through proper regulation of medical care.”
"I'm disappointed with the decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Gunn in a statement. "The legislation struck down today is designed to protect women and their unborn children. For those of us who believe in the sanctity of human life, this ruling is a major setback."
Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit in response to Mississippi's Medicaid funding law.