The US Supreme Court ruled 5 to 3 on Monday to strike down a 2013 Texas law regulating abortion clinics.
The court’s four liberal justices – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elana Kagan – were joined by Reagan appointee Anthony Kennedy, who is considered a swing vote. The three conservative justices all dissented.
The majority opinion, written by Breyer, struck down the law’s requirements that abortion clinics have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital, and that abortion clinics be held to the same standards as surgical centers.
Ruling that the requirements did not provide significant health benefits to women and constituted an “undue burden”, the court said the law violated women’s constitutional right to abortion access.
Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton praised the ruling, calling it a “victory for women”, while warning that the “fight isn’t over. The next president has to protect women’s health.”
Proponents of the law noted that it had been passed in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal, in which a Philadelphia abortion clinic doctor was charged with eight counts of murder after a woman and seven live-born children died. The clinic’s dangerous practices and unsanitary conditions prompted efforts around the country to regulate abortion providers and impose similar standards to those of medical centers.
Monday’s ruling is the court’s first on abortion since a 2007 decision upholding the federal partial-birth abortion ban.