The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory that allows for the protection of women’s access to medical services. The Texas law thrown out by a majority of the judges intended to limit abortions by restricting the number of reproductive rights clinics, creating an obstacle for low-income women particularly.
In 2013, the State of Texas approved a bill that reduced the number of clinics providing termination of pregnancy, among other women’s health services. Measure H.B.2 required the doctors working at these clinics to have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital and the clinics to make hospital-level upgrades to their facilities.
Advocates for the law say that their intention is to protect the health of women by creating safer conditions, but the reality is very different. Their true purpose is to limit abortions by establishing requirements that clinics will be unable to meet, forcing them to close. The tactic is being used in other Republican-led states to counteract the difficulty of annulling the Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion.
The strategy has resulted in the closing of many clinics, which has greatly affected low-income women and those who live far from urban centers. Women with higher incomes living in cities were not as severely impacted due to the variety of medical services to which they have access, unlike impoverished women, including 2.5 million Latinas living in Texas. They do not have the financial resources or the time to travel long distances to obtain reproductive health services.
In practice, restricting abortion in Texas was a way to punish poorer women, and it threatens a woman’s constitutional right to end her pregnancy. Judge Anthony Kennedy acknowledged these two problems in his opinion on the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, filed yesterday.
The judges recognized that, behind the argument of wanting to “protect” women’s health, the Texas law was doing exactly the opposite.