The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a Texas law that could close three-fourths of the state’s abortion clinics. It has the potential to become the most significant case on abortion rights the court has heard in 23 years.
The Texas law regulates abortion providers in various ways. For example, physicians performing abortions at specific clinics must hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and clinics must meet building standards for “ambulatory surgical clinics,” which are too costly for most abortion providers to meet.
The law, known as HB2, passed in 2013 and has led to the closure of more than half of Texas’ abortion clinics. Of the hundreds of new abortion restrictions lawmakers have passed since 2010, few have proved so consequential to abortion access within a single state. “Before the law began to take effect,” The Guardian reports, “Texas had 41 abortion clinics. A provision requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges with a hospital cut that number in half, and there are 18 clinics today. A second provision of the law, which has been blocked on and off for two years, would further slash the number of providers to nine or 10.”
The last time the nine justices of the Supreme Court ruled on a major abortion-related issue was in 2007, when they ruled 5-4 to uphold a federal law banning a late-term abortion procedure.