Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Supreme Court Ruling Causes Reopening of a Dozen Abortion Clinics in Texas

By Emma SahnPublished November 9, 2014

Ever since 1973, with the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion a legal right, abortion has become a highly debated and contentious topic time and time again. Texas has particularly been in the spotlight in recent years regarding the abortion debate, after passing a law in 2013 that essentially shut down almost all abortion clinics within the state. However, very recently, the Supreme Court ruled that this law was unconstitutional and as a result, almost a dozen abortion clinics have reopened. Although for many, this is a positive step in the right direction, there are still just as many fighting against the Supreme Court's decision, demonstrating that the fight is hardly over.

By Emma Sahn, 11/9/2014

Just a little over a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of reopening more than a dozen abortion clinics in Texas that had previously been closed due to a state law enacted in July 2013. Although abortion rights have long been debated in Texas, the 2013 legislation is viewed to be one of the most severe abortion laws to ever be passed. Spearheaded by Governor Rick Perry, the law's goal was to set the same standards for abortion clinics as surgical centers, with the reason for doing so to protect the health of all women. However, many believe that the real purpose of this bill was to increase prices dramatically for the abortion clinics, therefore putting them out of business. Protests against and for the bill arose, with the former dressing in orange and the latter in blue to show their allegiance, and dramatic arguments becoming common in the days leading up to the bill's passing. As Senator Kirk Watson pointed out, many Republicans oppose the term "war on women," leading many women confused as to why these Republicans are still "coming after them." In response, Senator Dan Patrick said, "I suggest babies are thinking the same thing."

A little more than a year after this extremely controversial bill was passed came the Supreme Court ruling against it, sparking yet another controversy. One of the most important oppositions to the 2013 law was that it created an unfair burden for women wishing to seek abortion. This "unfair burden" referred back to another landmark Supreme Court case, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, in which it was ruled that any "obstacle" in a woman's desire to get an abortion was an "unfair burden" and therefore unjust. As so many abortion clinics were forced to close, many women had to drive over 300 miles to get to an abortion — something that the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional. Another aspect of the 2013 law that the Supreme Court cited as unconstitutional was its requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals — which, for many doctors is almost impossible and very expensive.

Although many women have already commenced making appointments at newly-opened abortion clinics in Texas, complications have arisen from the needs to re-hire workers and get the clinics back up and running. It is also clear that this debate is not over, and even though this Supreme Court ruling is monumental, the future of the abortion issue is still unclear. Since abortion rights are a statewide legal matter, the issue is extremely difficult to table, especially with some states being dominated by Republicans and others by Democrats. Therefore, while this ruling is a huge victory for some, there is still a long way to go over this issue.