The Supreme Court has delivered a blow to opponents of the Texas abortion law by refusing to block a key provision that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting rights at a hospital within 30 miles.
On Tuesday, November 19, the Supreme Court voted along conservative/liberal (and, it should be noted, male/female) lines 5-4 to keep the admitting provision. The justices spent the past week examining the issue brought forth by Justice Antonin Scalia. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito joined Scalia in writing the majority opinion.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the women of the bench — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — in voting to block the provision, which, it has been argued, places unnecessary burdens on poor and rural-dwelling women in Texas.
It's been a topsy-turvy path for the new law, made famous, of course, by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' 11-hour filibuster against its passage in June. In October, Judge Lee Yeakel, a federal judge in Austin, ruled it unconstitutional, saying, "the act's admitting-privileges provision is without a rational basis." The Fifth Circuit overturned Yeakel's decision, fast-tracking it to hallowed halls of SCOTUS.
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood (and daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards), said in a statement, "While we are deeply disappointed, this isn’t over. We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women. This law is blocking women in Texas from getting a safe and legal medical procedure that has been their constitutionally protected right for 40 years."
For now, the law remains in effect, but there is still one more hurdle it must overcome. The case remains on appeal in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. with arguments set to begin in January.