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The Supreme Court Shut Down Texas's Abortion Restrictions

The 5-3 decision provides a clearer definition of what an "undue burden" on a woman seeking a legal abortion is and could affect legislation nation-wide.
Photo via Flickr user Lorie Shaull

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Texas's imposed restrictions on abortion clinics created an "undue burden" on women seeking a legal abortion in the state, USA Today reports.

The 5-3 ruling was one of the most anticipated and controversial decisions on the SCOTUS docket following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a landmark for reproductive rights in America.

The court ruled in opposition of the state's restrictions that would have left only ten operating clinics open to meet the demands of more than 5 million women. The justices ruled that the restrictions requiring clinics to add and maintain expensive surgical-standard equipment, as well as require abortion providers to have relationships to nearby hospitals, were unconstitutional.


Supporters of the bill said the standards needed to be put in place to protect women's health, while abortion doctors and advocates said they were unnecessary additions that would just cause more delays and clinic closures.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," Justice Stephen Breyer said of the decision. He joined Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan in the majority, while Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito ruled to uphold the restrictions.

The ruling also provides a clearer definition of what constitutes an "undue burden" for women seeking an abortion and could impact future legislation on abortion restrictions nation-wide.

Over 250 legislative restrictions have been placed on abortion clinics in the last five years alone, ranging between mandatory 24-hour waiting periods to parental consent.

Read: The President of Planned Parenthood Opens Up About Fighting for Reproductive Rights