Update #2 on Texas Abortion Clinics – They Can Stay Open For Now

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We have been following the story on the 13 Texas abortion clinics that were forced to close a couple weeks ago due to a stringent law Texas passed in 2013, leaving only 8 operating in the state. Well yesterday the Supreme Court said those clinics can now remain open – that is, until the case makes its way through more legal process (see below).

That’s great for Texas, but how does it affect me in California?

The case will likely come back to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court’s ultimate decision could affect the entire country if it decides that states are allowed to place such restrictions on abortion as Texas did.

Texas passed a law requiring abortion clinics to maintain facilities equivalent to a hospital that performs surgery. This is a very strict requirement that many clinics can’t meet, and thus would be forced to close, leaving many women without access to abortion facilities for hundreds of miles.

While supporters of the restriction (mostly people who are against abortion) say it is to protect women’s health, opponents of the law (mostly people who want to keep abortion legal and accessible) say it unfairly prevents access to abortions. Courts are now deciding whether this restriction on accessing abortions violates the Constitutional right to an abortion of a pre-viable fetus without having to face significant obstacles.1Roe v Wade (1973), Planned Parenthood v Casey (1992)

If the Supreme Court says it does NOT violate the Constitution, then California could pass a similar law (which, to be fair, is highly unlikely).

Why would the clinics be forced to close for less than 2 weeks, and then be allowed to remain open, temporarily?

The legal process can be a real rollercoaster sometimes. It’s messy, as cases get appealed from a lower court to an appeals court to the Supreme Court, and back down again sometimes. But usually if a court wants to rule in such a way that changes things up, like forcing abortion clinics to close, it will put the ruling on hold until a higher court (like the Supreme Court) makes a decision on the case. That way, people aren’t yanked around, and only after the legal process has run its course will a change actually be put into effect.

The appeals court probably should have put a hold in place here until the Supreme Court decided what to do with the case, as courts did with the recent same-sex marriage cases.

So what happens next?

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the intermediate appeals court will have to look at the case again. Whatever they decide, the case will probably eventually be appealed again to the Supreme Court, which will have the final say (it is Supreme, after all).

OK. Please keep me up to date on what happens with the case.

We will!


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