Supreme Court Blocks Parts Of Texas’ Abortion Laws, Allows Clinics To Remain Open

supreme court abortion texas

The Supreme Court on Monday blocked Texas from enforcing its rules governing abortion clinics — some of the strictest in the nation — allowing the Lone Star State’s remaining abortion clinics to remain open for the time being.

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling is not the final word on Texas’ abortion laws, however. Instead, the ruling was merely a procedural move that will keep the abortion operating at least until this fall, according to the Washington Post.

Here is the timeline of how Whole Woman’s Health et al v. Cole, the abortion case at the heart of today’s decision, wound up being ruled on by the Supreme Court today, and where the case goes from here.

Beginning in 2013, the most restrictive parts of Texas’ abortion regulations went into effect. The requirements, according to the New York Times, included all clinics to meet the same standards as “ambulatory surgical centers,” and required doctors who would perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Those requirements forced about half of the state’s abortion clinics to close. The clinics filed a lawsuit against the ruling on constitutional grounds; the case began making its way through the courts.

Prior to Monday’s ruling, the most recent ruling on the case came from a federal appeals court, which upheld those regulations and refused to delay them while the clinics appealed to the Supreme Court. The clinics filed an emergency appeal, which would keep the clinics open while the original case continued up to the Supreme Court. In other words, the Supreme Court today did not rule on the abortion case itself; it merely reversed a lower court ruling for the time being.

Monday’s ruling will keep the clinics open at least until this fall, when the Court will announce whether or not it will hear a full appeal. If the court decides not to hear the appeal, then the lower court ruling will stand, effectively closing even more Texas abortion clinics. If it does decide to hear the appeal, the final word on Texas’ abortion laws won’t come down from the Supreme Court until the summer of 2016 — right in the middle of the 2016 presidential campaign, when abortion is likely to be a hot-button issue once again.

Associated Press writer Mark Sherman opines that today’s ruling is a strong indication that the Supreme Court will hear a full appeal of Texas’ abortion laws. If so, says Sherman, it would be the biggest abortion-related case the Supreme Court has heard in 25 years.

Do you believe the Supreme Court made the right ruling today on Texas’ abortion laws? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.

[Image courtesy of Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla]