Supreme Court Decision May Cause Closure of Abortion Clinics Nationwide
The Supreme Court is looking into a case that will change the lives of many women this spring. They are considering a Texas admitting-privileges law which puts strict restrictions on abortion clinics requiring their doctors to be affiliated with nearby hospitals and limits abortions to ambulatory surgical centers. This will cause the few existing clinics to be forced to shut down requiring women seeking abortion to drive hours for appointments. The decision of this case will change more than just the law, it will impact women across the country so immensely and take away options for thousands.
But the future of this clinic and many others, across the South and much of the country, could be at stake this spring as the Supreme Court takes up what both sides in the abortion debate describe as a landmark case. While the death of Justice Antonin Scalia has added new considerations, the court’s decision in the case, which involves a Texas law, could shape abortion rules for years to come.
At issue is the practical meaning of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in a 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, that states may not impose an “undue burden” on access to abortion: A law is invalid “if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.” Can the courts second-guess a legislature’s assertion that a rule promotes women’s health? Can a state enforce laws that seriously reduce access to abortion without valid medical reasons?
Already, many of the 1,000 to 1,200 women obtaining abortions at this clinic each year face hours of driving, Ms. Ayers said, and all must make the trip twice because the state requires a 48-hour waiting period after the first visit, which abortion opponents hope will cause those planning to end their pregnancies to have second thoughts. More than two-thirds of the clinic’s patients live at or below the poverty line, and a large majority already have at least one child, she said.
“If I had a child now, we’d be in absolute poverty,” said Ms. Garza, who scrapes by on the G.I. Bill while pursuing a degree in social work and who described her own childhood as one of extreme hardship. “It wouldn’t be fair to the child.”