Supreme Court Blocks Texas’ Harsh Abortion Restrictions, Keeping Clinics Open

On Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court issued an injunction that will allow abortion clinics in Texas to remain open, temporarily blocking a package of harsh abortion restrictions that Texas lawmakers approved last summer. That measure, which was unsuccessfully filibustered by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, requires that abortion clinics make costly renovations to bring their building codes in line with ambulatory surgical centers and stipulates that abortion doctors must secure admitting privileges from local hospitals.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed the stringent new law to take effect immediately. This Supreme Court injunction overrules that decision, finding that the state “may not now enforce a requirement that all clinics in the state upgrade their facilities to be hospital-like surgical centers, even when they perform abortions only through the use of drugs, not surgery,” SCOTUS blog notes. Texas is also prohibited form enforcing “against the clinics in McAllen and El Paso, a requirement that all doctors performing abortions have privileges to admit patients to a hospital within thirty miles of the clinic.”

Just eight clinics in the entire state of Texas are currently certified as ambulatory surgical centers, meaning that had the provision gone into effect, large portions of the state would have been left without any clinics for hundreds of miles. The Supreme Court ruling means that 13 closed clinics will now be able to re-open.

The Supreme Court order noted that Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the Court’s injunction. The decision will now remain in effect until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit “rules on a constitutional challenge to the two measures,” SCOTUS blog reports.