Supporters of abortion rights are breathing a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court announced in a 5-4 decision that Texas may not shut down any abortion clinics not in compliance with HB 2 on July 1. The ruling means that all 19 of the state’s providers may continue to operate even without having active hospital-admitting privileges or adhering to other restrictive and expensive building code regulations of an Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC), two major pieces of the 2013 legislation that was challenged in the courts. The Supreme Court order overrules a federal circuit court ruling that would have allowed the law to go into effect on the first of the month, leaving just nine abortion clinics in four major metro areas in the state.
“We are emboldened by the Court’s decision, but know that this fight is far from over,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Women’s Health and a plaintiff in the court case, said via press release. “We will continue to stand with the women of Texas to ensure they have access to afforable abortion care when they need it.”
The law will be blocked from going into effect until the case will likely be reviewed by the full court, according to the Washington Post, a ruling which could have effects far beyond Texas. Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Alabama already have similar laws blocked by state and federal courts, and this week Tennessee joins them as yet another state having its admitting privileges law blocked from closing local clinics for now.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito all voted against blocking the Texas law from being enforced, and once more Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court swing vote on abortion, upheld the injunction. When the case does make it in front of the full bench, expect both sides to be playing for a Kennedy vote.