The Supreme Court agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2013 Texas law (HB 2) that resulted in the closure of half the state’s abortion clinics, according to SCOTUS blog.

The earliest Whole Women’s Health vs. Cole would be heard is February. The issue:

Whether, when applying the “undue burden” standard of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a court errs by refusing to consider whether and to what extent laws that restrict abortion for the stated purpose of promoting health actually serve the government’s interest in promoting health; and (2) whether the Fifth Circuit erred in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health – or any other valid interest.

According to the pro-life advocacy group, Texas Right to Life, “until SCOTUS completes a review of the constitutionality of HB 2, the law’s safety standards are delayed from taking effect in Texas.”

They write:

SCOTUS will review the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold specific safety standards in House Bill 2, the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013, for which Texas Right to Life led the legislative effort.

In considering HB 2, SCOTUS will consider the vague notion of “undue burden” as originally addressed in the Court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. For over two decades, this nebulous standard has been used to dismantle Pro-Life legislation, and – although SCOTUS’ deference to the Fifth Circuit’s earlier ruling would have been a victory for HB 2 – the Pro-Life movement at large would welcome clarification of the tenuous “undue burden” standard.

In their petition, CRR argued that HB 2 is at odds with the state’s interest to promote health since abortion mills have closed as a result of non-compliance with the increased safety standards set forth in HB 2.

On the one hand, the abortion industry clamors for uninterrupted taxpayer funding for alleged “women’s healthcare,” denying they use fungible funds for abortion. On the other hand, the abortion industry insists on the right to operate in the absence of the basic health and safety standards to which similar medical professions are held.

Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights told Politico, the case is the, “most important abortion rights case” in nearly 25 years.”

“For more than four decades, the Supreme Court has agreed that the U.S. Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health and family,” she said after the court agreed to hear the suit. “Now the court must reject the schemes of politicians who believe the Constitution and the court’s precedents do not apply to them.”

Texas argues that it has a well-established right to regulate medical facilities and providers and that the regulations are in the interest of women’s health.
“The advancement of the abortion industry’s bottom line shouldn’t take precedent over women’s health, and we look forward to demonstrating the validity of these important health and safety requirements in Court,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said after the court agreed to hear the case.

The abortion clinics that brought the suit argue that the law is designed to make it harder to get a medical procedure that is legal, effectively regulating clinics out of existence.

Before Texas enacted some of the requirements in 2013, 40 facilities provided abortion in the state. That number has fallen to 18, although only a handful of the law’s provisions have gone into effect. If the admitting privileges and construction requirements — provisions which are now on hold — move forward, the number is expected to fall to 10, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

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