WASHINGTON (UPI) — The Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-3 to strike down a Texas law that critics argued restricted women’s access to abortion clinics.
Abortion clinics challenged Texas’ 2013 law known as House Bill 2 that requires abortion centers to meet some of the same standards as hospitals, such as having large operating rooms and wide corridors. Doctors with admitting privileges were also needed at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.
There were 41 clinics that performed abortions prior to the bill’s passing. There are 19 clinics that perform abortions now. Less than 10 clinics were expected to remain if the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the law.
The justices had to decide whether the law unconstitutionally imposed restrictions that limit a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. Critics argued the law would begin the reversal of Roe v. Wade, also making it more difficult for Texas’ 5.4 million women of reproductive age to access abortion clinics. Some worried it would force women to travel long distances, which could lead women to waiting until the second trimester to receive an abortion.
The government of Texas said it enacted the law in response to the Kermit Gosnell scandal in Pennsylvania, in which a physician was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder for killing three babies that were born alive in his clinic.
President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was “pleased” with Monday’s ruling.
“As the brief filed by the solicitor general makes clear and as the court affirmed today, these restrictions harm women’s health and place an unconstitutional obstacle in the path of a woman’s reproductive freedom. We remain strongly committed to the protection of women’s health, including protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her right to determine her own future. Women’s opportunities are expanded and our nation is stronger when all of our citizens have accessible, affordable healthcare,” he said.