Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion law by 5-3 vote

Here’s a long-awaited decision, and we won. I’ve heard the vote is 5-3, making the court even more liberal now that Scalia is gone, but this was just announced and I haven’t seen either the decision or details. All I can say is that the three who voted against it are undoubtedly Thomas, Roberts, and Alito.

This is a great victory for those of us who are “pro-choice,” for the Texas law was clearly enacted not to make abortion safe, but to eliminate it altogether. That was clear from the questions asked by the justices during the hearing. Since the vast majority of abortions are effected by taking a pill, why do all centers require the same standards as ambulatory surgical center? Roe vs. Wade guaranteed a constitutional right to abortions, and it will not stand when states try to obviate that right with onerous restrictions.

Here’s the latest from KXAN in Texas:

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a 5-3 vote, the Supreme Court strikes down the Texas abortion law, declaring it unconstitutional.

Texas’ abortion law known as House Bill 2, was passed by lawmakers in 2013. It requires abortion centers to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers like having large operating rooms, wide corridors, and doctors with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. Prior to the bill passing 41 clinics in Texas performed abortions, now just 19 are open.

Critics argue HB 2 made it harder for women to access a clinic for an abortion and for those who have to travel long distances it would lead women to wait until their second trimester to get an abortion.

Finally, this is what the Great State of Texas makes women go through who want an abortion:


In Texas, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of December 1, 2015:

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman. If the woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion provider she must obtain the ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion.
  • An abortion may be performed at or after 20 weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered, her physical health is severely compromised or the pregnancy is “medically futile,” based on the spurious assertion that a fetus can feel pain at that point.


  1. Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink


    • rickflick
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink


  2. Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    It was clear to any reasonable person that these restrictions were not put into place out of a deep concern for women’s health. It was a stealth campaign to make abortion services incredibly hard to access. This is a huge victory for reproductive freedom. Now the pro-fetus Christians will run home with their tail between their legs and try to dream up another way to attack women’s reproductive freedom.

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      “It was clear to any reasonable person…”

      But not to three sitting United States supreme court justices.

      • Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:13 am | Permalink

        Unless those three sitting SCOTUS judges also believe abortion should be stopped, Constitutional or not. It is possible to be a sitting judge and a traitor to the Constitution at the same time.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          Especially if you’re Roman Catholic and believe God’s Law is more important. It just goes to show that SCOTUS does practice judicial activism, which no judge should ever do but seems all too common.

          I completely concur with spacehistorian’s comment.

  3. GBJames
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    A bit of good news for a change.

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Yes, we won, but it is not a cause for cheering or celebration because it is just a reaffirmation of what was won decades ago.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I think it is. The world is sliding down in many respects, so keeping a good thing is an achievement in itself! Congratulations to all Texans!

  5. dabertini
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Fantastic news!!

  6. Randall Schenck
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    It is always good news to hear unconstitutional religious interference in our lives turned back. Finally the supreme court gets one right. Some judges know how to read the law instead of the bible…imagine.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Better yet, even if Scalia had voted, he would have lost! The two point spread makes the even numbered court issue a non-issue. I bet having three women on the court was critical, too.

      Just yesterday, I watched an interview of several women executives in Iceland, talking about the effect their nation’s version of the ERA had. It passed in 1975. One said that a single woman on the board is a token. Two women on the board is a minority group. Three women on the board, and everything changes. Now, their voices are heard.

      • rickflick
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        If Scalia was alive, his arguments might have persuaded another justice and caused things to go wrong. I’m glad he’s dead. Wait…can I say that?

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

          We shake the head up and down – you just can’t see it.

        • Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          I think so. And I agree with you. That’s why I specified Scalia’s vote, and only that. 🙂

        • Mark R.
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

          I think the only time I ever cheered/fist pumped at the news of someone’s death was Scalia. I think I’ll do the same when Cheney dies.

          Speaking of Cheney, wouldn’t it suck if you knew your heart was given to that monster? But a heart giver will never know who gets it.

          • rickflick
            Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:42 am | Permalink

            My first was Jerry f**king Falwell.

            • Mark R.
              Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:53 am | Permalink

              You reminded me that my first was actually Fred Phelps.

              • Mark R.
                Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

                Fred fu**ing Phelps that is…

        • Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          Arguments? Living in a predominantly atheistic society which allows abortions, I wonder what arguments the other side has except that G*d is against abortion. I have never yet read a “pro-life” statement that, to me, would qualify as argument.
          The best achievement of our Orthodox church in its doomed pro-life struggle was to excommunicate one ob-gyn for doing abortions. I wonder what the doctor was doing in the congregation in the first place.

  7. Scott Draper
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I’m mostly gratified that the deceit was exposed for what it was.

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      And in such a way that it becomes final law — other states now won’t be able to defend restrictions just by claiming (wink wink) that their purpose is to “defend the health of the patient”, they’ll need to show evidence.
      Game, set, match.

  8. alexandra moffat
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Not sure how many cahtolics on the Court now, at least 5 now that Scalia is gone. There ought to be some way to reduce the number of religious members, more discussion, questioning, when the Senate does its “advise and consent”. Dream on……

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      The Jews on the court tend to be pretty non-religious. Merrick Garland would be another along those lines.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Plus (I think this is right) future such attempts can be denied by lower courts by just citing this decision. Yes?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

      Not a lawyer, but that’s my understanding.

    • eric
      Posted June 28, 2016 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      If they are so inclined. But remember, this is Texas. I think a more realistic possibility is that the legislature passes a slight variation of these restrictions, some lower, conservative, court allows it on the grounds that SCOTUS’ precedent didn’t address this new variation, and we have to do it all over again. And again, and again….

      IOW the ruling allows intellectually honest courts to interpret SCOTUS’ intent correctly, but not all courts are so intellectually honest.

  10. JohnE
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The actual decision:

  11. Craw
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Time to confirm Merrick Garland.

    Why no pressure on the GOP for this? I can see the case for sitting on a lame duck’s nominee if the wait would be short, but this will be a whole year. That’s just an abuse.

    • Jeremy Tarone
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Along with some seventy plus other appointments that Republicans refuse to confirm, including the position of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives which has been vacant for six years, which Republicans have consistently blocked.

      Republican’s say government doesn’t work, and if it does work, Republicans will deliberately break it, so they can say government doesn’t work.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      An abuse, an outrage and another blatant sign that Republicans don’t do the job they were elected to do. It’s amazing that they get paid.

  12. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I had heard that Clarence Thomas was considering retiring down after the election. The scuttlebut is that this news, if it becomes generally known, could energize the rebublican base to vote for Trump.

    • Mark R.
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      I think the SCOTUS issue motivates both the dems and repubs. The question is who will it motivate more?

  13. Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:42 am | Permalink


  14. ladyatheist
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Next: the Indiana law preventing abortion due to the fetus’s sex, race, or medical future (something like that)

  15. Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    “…Prohibits a person from performing an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability. Provides for disciplinary sanctions and civil liability for wrongful death if a person knowingly or intentionally performs a sex selective abortion or an abortion conducted because of a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability…”

    So people will be forced to make their prenatal diagnostic tests in one town and abortion in another one. Good for tourism.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted June 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

      This law also creates the bizarre situation that you can get an abortion because you’re not ready to have a child UNLESS that child has a foetal abnormality, then you have to carry it to term.

      • Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        I know disability activists who have exactly this view. Actually, the disability community is the only non-religious community known to me that is anti-abortion. They are either against any abortion, or would allow only abortion of normally developing fetuses.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted June 27, 2016 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

          I’ve come across them in NZ too. They want to make it illegal to even check foetuses for abnormalities. They seem to think if there are more disabled people there will be more compassion for them, but I don’t see that at all. How many people there are with Down’s Syndrome, for example, makes absolutely no difference to me how I treat them.

          And in places like NZ, Aus and Europe etc where we have single-payer health systems, the less disabled people there are, the more money that is available for each individual person. At the moment, the cash is pretty thinly spread. I’d personally like to see more go to the sector, and the same cash being spread amongst less if less people with DS were being born would help.

        • Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

          Maybe better to specify congenitally disabled, for that group, as opposed to those with acquired disabilities who knew what normal was and miss it still.

        • Shwell Thanksh
          Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:21 am | Permalink

          Is there a Group Achievement category for the Darwin Award?

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Downs… vs microcephaly?

      • Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        I better explain that: Downs syndrome covers a wide range of functionality. For that matter, so does microcephaly. Both depend on the severity of the underlying issue. Downs is relatively rare, though, and unless there are other issues to go alongside it, it won’t cost nearly as much as a comparable microcephalic, when the severe cases are compared. That mosquitoes carry Zika, and even middle class families can be affected, forcing them and their normal/healthy children into desperate poverty, can make a serious impact on governmental tax coffers. When politicians can’t tax the rest of us enough to cover their excellent healthcare insurance and above-average salaries, they’ll see fit to do something about this, I’ll wager.

      • Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Add a number of conditions such as cystic fibrosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy that progress relentlessly and bring a slow, premature death to a person with perfectly normal intelligence and self-awareness.
        I once read with disgust how some clueless commenter – presumably a pro-lifer – patted himself and his wife on the back for not aborting a daughter prenatally diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. “She is now 3, so happy, so agile, and would laugh at any fool suggesting that she should not have been born!” Another participant replied that his cousin died of CS at age 23, and things looked very different by then.

  16. Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    A welcome ruling for my American friends, I think.

  17. Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as both a Texas native and a Texas resident, I am delighted by this decision. The next step is to reverse the blatantly illegal gerrymandering that keeps political control of one of the most culturally diverse states in the USA firmly in the hands of the Republican minority.

  18. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read the four opinions issued today in Whole Woman’s Health (Breyer’s opinion for the Court, the Notorious RBG‘s concurrence, and the dissents of Thomas and Alito). The decision wasn’t even close. To affirm the Fifth Circuit’s decision upholding of the Texas law at issue, the Court would’ve had to have adopted an any-pretext’ll-do standard for abortion restrictions.

    The biggest surprise is how half-hearted the dissents were. Alito and Roberts dissented solely on narrow procedural grounds, grounds so narrow they’ll be of interest only to a slice of the legal community. And even Thomas’s substantive dissent seemed dispirited (though he did manage to toss in the de riguer a snide comment about the “right of a woman to abort her unborn child”).

    What few of those in the anti-abortion-rights crowd seem to realize is that if Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided — if, that is, the Constitution is silent on the matter of women’s reproductive rights, as the Roe opponents contend — then women in this country are entirely without constitutional guarantee of any reproductive autonomy. A government than can prevent a woman from obtaining an abortion can just as easily force one upon her.

    The pro-lifers’ traditional solution to this conundrum has been to advocate for an amendment to the US the Constitution granting “personhood” status to fetuses. The dirty little secret buried in their plan is that such an amendment really would make abortion murder, necessarily so. This is the dirty little secret that the pro-lifers got so pissed at Donald Trump for spilling when he told Chris Matthews that women who have abortions must be punished.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      But, aww, gee, that would include the overly entitled uber-rich folks getting abortions for their teen daughters, too! We can’t let that happen, now can we?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

        If Hillary wins and appoints the next couple justices on SCOTUS, we will have quietus on the federal front in the war over abortion — excepting for the Court having to invalidate whatever pretextual laws states with gerrymandered Republican legislative majorities enact.

  19. Posted June 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I loved the Washington Post’s headline: Supreme Court rules against Texas and for science in abortion case.

    That really put the Texas state government in its place.

    • Posted June 27, 2016 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      And now, the anti-abortionists want to use this SCOTUS decision to push for a TEXIT. With all the military bases in Texas, if the US government allowed Texas to secede, moved all its military bases to other states, and quit sending the financial support that it does, Texas would have little more than oil to maintain its standard of living as a state, and that’s not the most financially reliable commodity.

      • Historian
        Posted June 27, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        The possibility of Texas or any other state seceding is pure fantasy. The issue was settled in 1865.

      • Shwell Thanksh
        Posted June 28, 2016 at 12:31 am | Permalink

        There are an awful lot of Texas banks with overextended loans due to oil prices. Now might not be the best timing for Texans to tell those US Gubmint bureaucrats at the FDIC to shove off with their deposit insurance.

%d bloggers like this: