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The Texas SCOTUS Decision Is Already Toppling Other Abortion Restrictions

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss, the sole abortion provider remaining in the state. The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down a law that would have shuttered it. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ROGELIO V. SOLIS, FILE
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss, the sole abortion provider remaining in the state. The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down a law that would have shuttered it. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/ROGELIO V. SOLIS, FILE

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to review further restrictions on doctors who perform abortions in Mississippi and Wisconsin, marking the first ripple effect from Monday’s landmark ruling that overturned two abortion restrictions in Texas. In so doing, the Court ensured that Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic will be allowed to remain open.

At issue in both states were laws requiring abortion doctors to have “admitting privileges” at a nearby hospital, a formal affiliation that is difficult to obtain. The justices rejected the cases, letting the ruling of lower courts blocking the laws stand.

Laws like those currently on hold in Mississippi and Wisconsin fit into a larger strategy known as “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,” or TRAP laws. By placing burdensome red tape on clinics and providers, these laws indirectly restrict access to abortion by making it so difficult to legally offer abortion that many clinics are forced to close.

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In a landmark case on Monday, however, the Supreme Court struck down two common TRAP restrictions in Texas: A provision that require doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, like those under litigation in Mississippi and Wisconsin, and a provision that requires clinics to be up to standard with “ambulatory surgical centers.” Writing for the majority, Justice Breyer concluded that these policies represent “unnecessary health regulations” that pose an “undue burden” on women’s right to abortion.

The Texas case is particularly significant because of the ripple effect it will have on similar laws, which have spread rapidly around the country. By overturning Texas’ laws as medically unnecessary, the Supreme Court put TRAP laws in other states on shaky legal ground.

The laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi were expected to see immediate fallout from Monday’s Supreme Court decision because they are both subject to pending court challenges. But it’s just the beginning of a potential domino effect that could have a dramatic impact on abortion policy across the country. Also following the Texas decision, yesterday in Alabama the Attorney General announced that it would end its appeal of a decision finding a similar admitting privileges law unconstitutional.

The Decision Overturning Texas’ Abortion Law Will Have A Dramatic Impact Across The CountryHealth by CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci In a decision that will have far-reaching effects across the country, the Supreme…thinkprogress.org“As the news in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Mississippi shows, yesterday’s landmark ruling was just the beginning,” Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, said in a press release. “This decision has opened the door to go state by state, legislature by legislature, law by law, and restore access to safe, legal abortion.”

However, despite the fact that admitting privileges will remain blocked, these states are still home to a host of abortion restrictions — including mandatory waiting periods, 20-week abortion bans, and a different TRAP law requiring clinics to meet surgical standards.

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“States have passed more than 1,000 restrictions on a woman’s ability to get an abortion. This means for many women the constitutional right to an abortion is still more theoretical than real and there is much more work to be done to ensure that every woman who needs an abortion can actually get one,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU, in a press release.

Celisa Calacal, an intern at ThinkProgress, contributed to this report.