The U.S. Supreme Court handed a victory to abortion rights advocates Monday, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities, regulations that critics contended were specifically designed to shut down clinics.
The 5-3 ruling held that the Republican-backed 2013 law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to end a pregnancy established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The normally nine-justice court is one member short after the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who consistently opposed abortion in past rulings.
Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy joined liberal members of the court in ruling that both key provisions of the law violate a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion.
Liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the court, said that the appeals court that upheld the law was wrong in its approach, noting that courts are required to “consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits that those laws confer.”
Deferring to state legislatures over “questions of medical uncertainty is also inconsistent with this court’s case law,” Breyer added.
Three conservative justices ? Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito ? dissented. (Reuters)