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Supreme Court Deals a Major—If Temporary Victory to Texas Women’s Reproductive Rights

Supreme Court Deals a Major—If Temporary Victory to Texas Women’s Reproductive Rights

Following an emergency application from reproductive health care providers, the Supreme Court has blocked two key parts of the restrictive Texas law that, since 2012, has forced 32 of the state’s 40 clinics to close their doors to women in need of health care services. In a 6-3 order issued yesterday, the justices blocked provisions of House Bill 2 that mandate clinics to meet strict the building standards of an ambulatory surgical center and that require providing physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Though proponents of the bill insist these provisions enforce a higher standard for protecting women’s health, they are both unnecessary for ensuring healthy procedures and unjustified in the burden they place on Texas women.

Yesterday’s order is the latest step in a long, complicated legal debate over reproductive health care access for Texas women. HB 2 first rose garnered national attention when State Senator Wendy Davis (D) stood for 13 hours to filibuster the bill, a valiant effort ultimately defeated in a special session called specifically to give the legislature another chance to pass the bill. Judge Lee Yeakel of a federal district court in Austin granted an appeal from reproductive health care providers, finding that the bill’s restrictions placed an undue burden on Texas women. The state appealed that decision, leading in September to a hearing by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which overturned Judge Yeakel’s decision, thereby forcing all but eight clinics in the state to stop providing services immediately.

Following the Supreme Court’s order, more than 12 clinics forced by the Fifth Circuit decision to close may now continue to provide health care services while the Court considers a full appeal. Though the fight is far from over, the order is a momentous victory for Texas women and their families and a promising step toward reproductive justice.