Activists and politicians on both sides of America’s never-ending debate on abortion are closely watching as the Supreme Court hears arguments Wednesday over a Texas law aimed at making it more difficult to operate an abortion clinic.
The law — “H.B. 2″ — has been mimicked in many other GOP-run states around the country and imposes a number of regulations on abortion clinics under the guise of medical safety. Among some of the stiuplations, it requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and dictates that abortion clinics must meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.
The majority of abortion clinics don’t meet such standards. Many doctors who perform the procedure lack admitting privileges at local hospitals, possibly because obtaining the authorization can be trying for providers situated in areas where many of the hospitals are affiliated with anti-abortion churches.
The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists submitted a brief urging the court to strike down the law.
In Texas, more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics have closed in the past two years because they don’t comply with the new regulations. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of H.B. 2 on Wednesday, at least 10 more clinics could shut their doors.
The absence of the late Justice Antonin Scalia has supporters of abortion rights hoping Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, will rule against the law. If he does, the decision will likely be 5-3 to strike down H.B. 2.
Kennedy sided with the four justices commonly viewed as being liberal to place an injunction on the law while the court reviewed the case.
If Kennedy rules to uphold the law, however, the court may deadlock, 4-4. In that case, the decision will leave an appeals court ruling that largely upheld the new law intact.