SCOTUS to Rule On Texas Abortion Law By End of June

In this post-Antonin Scalia reality, rulings from the Supreme Court on all issues, including abortion, are more uncertain than ever. Among other things, Justice Scalia passionately defended unborn life, and his presence in this and many areas will be greatly missed.

Due by the end of June is a ruling from SCOTUS regarding Texas abortion restrictions passed in 2013. Reuters reports:

The Supreme Court is due to rule by the end of June on whether the Texas law, which imposes strict regulations on abortion doctors and clinic facilities, violates a woman’s constitutional right to end her pregnancy as set out in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling. The court has not issued a major abortion-related ruling since 2007.

The law requires abortion doctors to have “admitting privileges,” a type of formal affiliation, at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the clinic. That provision has been implemented. A second provision, not yet in effect, requires clinics to have costly hospital-grade facilities including extensive standards for such attributes as corridor width, room size, floor tiles and the swinging motion of doors.

Abortion rights advocates say it imposes medically unnecessary regulations intended to shut clinics and has dramatically reduced access to abortion in Texas, the second-most-populous U.S. state with about 27 million people.

Currently, the justices are somewhat evenly split with four leaning conservative, or mostly conservative, and four leaning liberal. If the result is a 4-4 ruling on the matter at hand that would “…affirm a lower court’s decision upholding the law but would not set a national legal precedent that could guide other states eager to pass similar statutes”. However, Justice Anthony Kennedy has not always been kind to the pro-life community. In his career as a justice on the Supreme Court, Kennedy has voted to uphold Roe v. Wade and also declared that abortion is a “right”. He will likely be the deciding factor as conservative justices John G. Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas are expected to uphold the Texas ruling. TIME reported in March, when oral arguments commenced for the Texas case, that it’s difficult to tell how Kennedy will rule, given his past decisions.

…some scholars say this suggests that Kennedy might be inclined to strike down the Texas restrictions…

But Kennedy’s ruling in a 2007 abortion case suggests that he’s more conflicted than it might appear. In Gonzales vs. Carhart, Kennedy wrote the majority opinion upholding Congress’s ban on a form of late-term abortion which the legislation refers to as “partial-birth abortion.” His lengthy opinion makes it clear he’s deeply troubled by the details of this procedure.

And he added speculation that some women might regret their decisions, a statement that has been widely slammed as patronizing and towards women who choose to have abortions.

The Texas legislation from 2013 has done much to change the landscape of the abortion industry in the Lone Star state. When the law was passed, there were 41 abortion clinics in the state. Now there are only 19 clinics. If the Supreme Court upholds the ruling of the lower court, the number of clinics, according to Reuters, would decrease to only 9.

The law has certainly been a win for expanding the culture of life and reducing abortion availability in Texas. As we know, though, it is impossible to legislate morality. As far as abortion is concerned, increasing restrictions on the murderous – yet legal – practice can and does save lives. Limited availability means women who might have been ready to end their child’s life will have more time to think about their decision and may end up seeking non-abortive services and resources.

Texas is one of many states (like Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) that has taken aim at the culture of death permeating American society. The hope is that this month’s ruling will at least uphold the 2013 law, and abortion availability in the state will continue to decline.