Abortion
August 9, 2016
Will states make access to it more difficult?

Abortion-rights advocates won a major victory in June when the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law requiring doctors to obtain permission to practice at hospitals near their offices and to have abortion clinics adhere to hospital building codes. Legal experts believe the ruling may slow the spread of efforts nationwide to restrict abortion. During the first half of 2016, 17 states passed 46 separate restrictions, ranging from lengthening waiting periods to banning abortions after 20 weeks. However, anti-abortion activists have vowed to pursue other restrictions. With emotions likely to remain high, the presidential candidates’ stances on abortion could mobilize voters in November. Republican Donald Trump is promising to nominate Supreme Court justices who will oppose abortion rights, while Democrat Hillary Clinton is pledging to uphold those rights.

Abortion-rights supporters embrace after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a Texas law restricting abortion clinics. (AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)   Abortion-rights supporters embrace after the U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down a Texas law restricting abortion clinics. (AFP/Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)

The Supreme Court in June made its most significant statement on abortion in more than two decades in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, voting 5-3 to strike down two provisions of a 2013 Texas law regulating abortion. Footnote 1

One provision required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges allowing them to practice at hospitals near their offices. The other required abortion clinics to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including rules that dictate the width of hallways. Lower courts had placed the latter provision on hold pending the final outcome of the legal challenge. Footnote 2

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