In a landmark decision the Supreme Court has prioritized women’s abortion autonomy. In a 5-3 decision, the High Court ruled to uphold a woman’s constitutional right to make decisions about her reproductive health. Women across many states including Louisiana have been unable to access abortions because of many restrictions that were masked as health protections. The court said that the supposed benefits were nonexistent, but the burden to receive care was very real, and that if the burden outweighed the benefit than those burdens are unconstitutional.
The Texas law at issue was HB2, which had two main requirements: the “surgical center requirement” and the “admitting privileges requirement.” These requirements would have contributed to shuttering the offices of 3/4 of the abortion providers in Texas. The Supreme Court concluded, “that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a provability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access . . . and each violates the Federal Constitution.”
The ruling today makes it clear that states cannot impose restrictions on quality, safe abortion care providers in a way that creates an undue burden on women’s right to choose. This ruling will impact legal challenges in the future, including in Louisiana. A challenge to Louisiana’s admitting privileges law is currently pending in in the Fifth Circuit, but today’s ruling provides hope that Louisiana’s law will also be overturned.
When access is denied to all women, black women are the most vulnerable. The intersectionality of the existence of black womanhood carries with it an array of policies that create a detrimental existence for black women across the United States. Included are policies that restrict access to any means of health care. Many of the undue burden issues had a disproportionate negative affect on black women.
This victory alleviates some hurdles that black women face regarding abortion access, but it is only a step in reproductive healthcare for the community as a whole.