—For Immediate Release—
June 27, 2016—New York, NY—In what may be the most significant reproductive rights decision since 1992, the United States Supreme Court on Monday struck down a Texas law (known as HB 2) that mandated one of the country’s harshest abortion restrictions. The 5-3 ruling will keep women’s health clinics open in Texas. More importantly, it blocks lawmakers from forcing large numbers of clinics to close by imposing measures that are not based on medical evidence, or necessity. The decision may potentially pave the way to overturning similar restrictions in other states, such as Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
Writing for the majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said, “We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.” The opinion also noted that abortions in Texas were extremely safe before the law was passed, and that attorneys for Texas failed to present any evidence that the law had made abortion safer. “We add that, when directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”
In a concurring opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote, “In truth, complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous . . . It is beyond rational belief that HB 2 could genuinely protect the health of women.”
Legal Momentum’s President and CEO, Carol Robles-Román, said “This decision will have particular impact on low-income Latinas, those who are least able to go to clinics that are further away or out of state. The Texas law would have forced them to take more days off of work, lose income, find childcare, and arrange and pay for transportation to travel hundreds of miles. The Court’s ruling today means that states cannot impose unnecessary roadblocks that prevent women from making basic health care decisions. It is a major win for women’s health and economic security.”
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum, the Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of girls and women. We LEAD: litigate, educate, advocate, and defend to promote gender equality. Legal Momentum works in three broad areas: access to justice (including economic justice), freedom from gender-based violence, and equality under the law. Legal Momentum brings cutting-edge impact lawsuits, drafts and supports innovative legislation, and educates judges and court personnel on issues related to gender equality. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.