In its most significant abortion-related ruling in two decades, the Supreme Court Monday struck down a pair of Texas abortion restrictions that have already shut down over half of the clinics that operated in the state, leaving many areas without access to safe and legal procedures.
In a 5-3 decision, the court ruled that the restrictions did not “protect women’s health,” as they were purported to do, but rather that they placed “undue burden” on the constitutional right of women seeking legal pregnancy terminations to have safe access to such services.
This has implications beyond Texas, as a bevy of other GOP-led states have tried or are trying to push through similar restrictions. Monday’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt ruling makes it clear that such measures will not be upheld by SCOTUS moving forward. “So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote, “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H.B. 2 that ‘do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,’ cannot survive judicial inspection.”
This ruling is further significant because it means that even if the Republicans win the White House—and are therefore able to appoint late Justice Anthony Scalia’s replacement according to their interests—the court still has a five-justice majority that will rule in favor of protecting abortion rights and access.
It’s likely that many states looking to impose abortion restrictions will continue to fight to prove they are not imposing an “undue burden” on women, despite today’s ruling. “Our fight is far from over,” Hillary Clinton said in a statement. “In Texas and across the country, a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health decisions is under attack. In the first three months of 2016, states introduced more than 400 measures restricting access to abortion.”
In other SCOTUS-related news, the court Monday also upheld the opinion that domestic violence convictions can result in restrictions in gun ownership.