Supreme Court order allows abortion clinics to reopen in Texas

Suterwala_image-446x535Hell yeah.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed more than a dozen Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking a state law that had imposed strict requirements on abortion providers. Had the law been allowed to stand, it would have caused all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics to close and would have required many women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion provider.

The Supreme Court’s order — five sentences long and with no explanation of the justices’ reasoning — represents an interim step in a legal fight that is far from over. But abortion rights advocates welcomed what they said was the enormous practical impact of the move. Had the clinics been forced to remain closed while appeals went forward, they said, they might never have reopened.

The brief 6-3 ruling entirely blocked the requirement that clinics become ambulatory surgery centers–the latest blow to access that forced more than a dozen clinics to close earlier this month–and also exempted clinics in McAllen and El Paso from the admitting privileges requirement, sparing the hardest-hit communities of West Texas and the Rio Grande Valley from losing their only providers for hundreds of miles. 

As SCOTUS Blog notes, “The Supreme Court’s order is not a final ruling on the constitutionality of the new limitations, but is a strong indication that the state may have difficulty defending them, at least as statewide measures.” And in the meantime, as the case is heard by the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, this stay means the world to folks in Texas whose need for safe, legal abortion care does not ebb and flow according to the whims of the courts.

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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