by John Stonestreet
Yesterday, the Supreme Court, by a 5-3 vote, struck down Texas’s House Bill 2, which required, among other things, a physician performing an abortion to have admitting privileges in a hospital within thirty miles of where the procedure is performed.
It also required that “the minimum standards for an abortion facility be equivalent to the minimum standards … for ambulatory surgical centers.”
Let’s not mince words: The Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedtis a setback for the pro-life cause.
To fully grasp what all of this means, some background is in order. While Roe v. Wade established a “constitutional right” to abortion, state and local governments may regulate some aspects of abortion: for instance, requiring a waiting period and parental consent in the case of minors.
But in series of cases culminating in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court placed limits on these kinds of regulations, ruling that regulations that place an “undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to an abortion were unconstitutional.
In the 24 years since Casey, what constitutes an “undue burden” has been decided on a case-by-case basis as pro-life forces and their legislative allies have tested legal boundaries. In the Texas case, pro-abortion forces responded by claiming that the “right” to an abortion was “in jeopardy.”
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