The petitioner challenges the State of Texas’ House Bill 2 that requires physicians performing an abortion to have active admitting privileges and that the minimum standards for an abortion facility be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under the Texas Health and Safety Code.
The Court must consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits.
The State of Texas passed a House Bill 2 that contains two provisions. The first provision says that a physician performing an abortion must, on the date the abortion is performed, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed. The second provision provides that the minimum standards for an abortion facility must be equivalent to the minimum standards adopted under the Texas Health and Safety Code.
Does the two provisions of Texas’ House Bill 2 violate the Constitution?
Yes, because neither of the provisions confers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Because the State of Texas has failed to demonstrate that any practical benefits from the new law adopted would outweigh the current obstacles imposed to individuals and hospitals, the new law is unconstitutional.
Justice Thomas and Alito
Thomas: The majority’s approach – the Court should consider the burdens a law imposes on abortion access together with the benefits those laws confer; when the law’s justifications are uncertain, the Court need not defer to the legislature – is nowhere found in our precedents.
Alito: The District Court’s analysis and evidence put forth are insufficient. In fact, it is not clear that there has been a material impact on access to abortion since the adoption of the new law. The statistics given by the petitioners do not justify the facial invalidation of the law’s requirements.
The purpose of the admitting-privileges requirement is to help ensure that women have easy access to a hospital should complications arise during an abortion procedure. However, the District Court found that it brought about no health-related benefit. There also does not exist in Texas’ record evidence that shows that the new law advanced Texas’ legitimate interest in protecting women’s health. At the same time, the requirement places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman’s choice. The requirement led to the closure of half of Texas’ clinics, which led to fewer doctors, longer waiting times, and increased crowdings.