The highest court in America has said it will hear arguments and render a decision regarding a controversial Texas law on abortion. The law, supported by Republicans, places high standards on medical clinics and purports to place new, stricter requirements on doctors who provide abortions in Texas.
Proponents of the abortion law say that it is necessary to protect the health of women across the state.
Opponents of the law claim that the argument is simply an excuse by conservatives to cover up efforts geared towards shutting down abortion clinics and making the procedure much more difficult to obtain.
The challenge to the Supreme Court focuses on a portion of the law that has not yet gone into effect which requires Texas abortion clinics to have and maintain hospital-grade facilities. Opponents of the law claim this mandate would require many providers’ to undertake costly upgrades at many offices.
The challenge is also aimed at a mandate within a portion of the law that has already gone into effect. That part of the legislation mandates that abortion doctors obtain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic.
Activists opposing the law said there were 42 clinics in Texas before the law was enacted and passed in 2013. But, after the first piece of the law went into effect, many clinics shut down, leaving only 19 standing within the state. The clinics were mostly closed due to the admitting privileges mandate. Wait times for abortions have increased and the number of abortions has decreased.
The last time the Supreme Court considered an abortion-related case was in 2007, when the justices ruled to uphold a federal law banning late-term abortions.
The fate of the Texas law will likely to come down to the vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee who has become a swing vote on a court with four clear liberals and four clear conservatives. Kennedy voted with the four conservative justices in the 2007 case, but he voted with the liberal justices to put the Texas law on hold until the court figures it out.
Both sides of the case are optimistic that they will win. We will likely receive a decision by the Supreme Court in June – just four months from the next United States presidential election.