Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reproductive-Rights Advocates Praise Supreme Court’s Texas Ruling

Andrea Sears, Public News Service

House Bill 1948 would limit abortions after 20 weeks and ban one procedure. (Ruhrfisch/Wikimedia Commons)
House Bill 1948 would limit abortions after 20 weeks and ban one procedure. (Ruhrfisch/Wikimedia Commons)
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling Monday on a Texas law restricting access to abortion services calls the constitutionality of similar laws, including Pennsylvania's, into question.

The 5-to-3 ruling found that two key provisions of the Texas law impose an "undue burden" on women's right to choose.

According to Sari Stevens, director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, the ruling sets a standard that opens Pennsylvania's Act 122 to legal challenge.

"It does not strike down Act 122, but it provides fodder for a state-by-state fight all across the country and we'll learn a lot more in the weeks and months to come," she points out.

Act 122 was passed in 2011. Like the Texas law, it requires surgical abortion clinics to meet requirements for ambulatory surgical facilities.

Although not as severe as the Texas law, Stevens points out that Act 122 had a similar impact on the availability of abortion services.

"A number of abortion facilities closed,” she states. “Each facility that complied spent up to hundreds of thousands of dollars on structural changes. It increased cost and limited access."

While supporters of Act 122 maintained it was to protect women's health, Stevens says Monday's Supreme Court ruling proves the intent of such laws is to restrict access to abortion.

Stevens notes that the ruling comes just a week after the Pennsylvania House passed HB 1948, a bill she says would give the state one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

"Women deserve access to reproductive health without barriers or political roadblocks,” she stresses. “The Supreme Court upheld that right and we hope that the Pennsylvania Legislature will heed that decision."

HB 1948 may come up for a vote in the State Senate this week.

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