Texas Ruling Could Change Landscape of 'Abortion Desert'

Clinics could reopen, temporary blocks against abortion restrictions could become permanent
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2016 9:01 AM CDT
Texas Ruling Could Change Landscape of 'Abortion Desert'
Women embrace as they celebrate during a rally at the Supreme Court in Washington on Monday after the court struck down Texas' widely replicated regulation of abortion clinics.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In Texas, just 19 abortion clinics remain (down from more than 40); in Mississippi, there's just one abortion clinic in the entire state. But abortion rights advocates are hoping that Monday's Supreme Court decision that Texas clinic laws are unconstitutional will help remedy the so-called "abortion desert" in the South and Midwest, as the Los Angeles Times frames it. While abortion critics in other states are shoring up laws similar to those in Texas—including some of the 200 or so restrictions passed between 2010 and 2014, per the Guttmacher Institute—as well as trying to implement new ones they say will protect fetal health, abortion rights advocates are celebrating the Supreme Court decision and making their own plans. "It's a definitive ruling," says Dr. Willie Parker, who heads up the Mississippi clinic. "It doesn't leave any wiggle room for people who have sought to abuse regulatory authority and gut the provisions of [Roe vs. Wade]."

Abortion rights supporters also hope the Supreme Court ruling will topple laws in other states (some laws are temporarily blocked, and the New York Times expects "waves of legal challenges"), and that at least some shuttered abortion clinics can be reopened. Per the Center for Reproductive Rights, besides Texas, five other states mandate that abortion clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards, while nine other states say clinic doctors must have admitting privileges at local hospitals, the AP notes. As for opening the doors of closed clinics, especially those in rural areas, Whole Woman's Health President Amy Hagstrom Miller tells the Times it's a "daunting task" that will mean starting from square one with licensing, staffing, and other logistics. "We have the go-ahead to open clinics, but the process to undertake it is going to take time," she says. (This woman had an abortion eight weeks before her due date.)

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