Supreme Court's abortion ruling puts Florida’s new law in jeopardy

Days before Florida’s new law restricting abortion clinics was to go in effect, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 vote against clinic restrictions in Texas.

The justices found two parts of Texas’ law, HB 2, unconstitutional: the admitting privileges requirement, which mandates abortion clinic doctors to have the ability to admit their patients to a hospital no further than 30 miles away; and the surgical center requirement, which mandates clinics have the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. After the law passed, about half of Texas’ abortion providers closed their doors.

"We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes," writes Justice Stephen Breyer in the majority opinion. "Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a pre-viability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access…and each violates the Federal Constitution."

In a concurring opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes that "it’s beyond rational belief" that HB 2 would protect women’s health, but it did make certain abortions would be more difficult to obtain.

"When a state severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety," she writes. "Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws like HB 2 that 'do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,'…cannot survive judicial inspection."

Florida’s law, House Bill 1411, requires abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges or transfer agreements with nearby hospitals and be treated more like surgical centers. One of the proponents of the Florida bill, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, previously said lawmakers modeled HB 1411 to be "constitutional."

"This is a landmark decision that sends a strong message that laws that restrict access to abortion under the guise of protecting women are unconstitutional," says Lillian Tamayo, president of the Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida in a statement. "Here in Florida, women’s access to care is still very much under threat."
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