The Supreme Court struck down common abortion restrictions on June 27, 2016, the most significant abortion ruling in years. Alabama has similar provisions to the ones struck down.
Texas required abortion clinics to have doctors with admitting privileges in a local hospital and required the clinics to abide by the requirements for surgical centers. This law resulted in severely limiting the number of abortion clinics in Texas.
Justice Kennedy, along with the four liberal justices, found that these requirements didn’t benefit women’s health but severely restricted womens’ right to get an abortion.
As far as the admitting-privileges requirement, the law required that doctors who performed abortions be allowed to practice in a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic. This was difficult for doctors because most hospitals required doctors to perform so many procedures in a hospital that year to maintain admitting privileges, or they had other onerous requirements.
The Supreme Court found that this was unnecessary because abortions were relatively safe, and one study found that only .23 percent of abortions actually required immediate trips to the hospital. Most complications actually happened days afterwards, so the admitting-privileges requirement wasn’t necessary in those cases, the majority said.
Likewise with the surgical-center requirement. This required the clinics to have a certain number of nurses on staff and required that the clinics have certain design features such as the size of the floor and halls to fit hospital beds.
The Court was convinced that these requirements imposed significant burdens on women’s ability to get an abortion while providing little health improvements. The Court found that Texas’s law did not place similar restrictions on other surgical clinics, even though other surgeries were much less safe, and even grandfathered many of those other facilities in.
Alabama has almost identical requirements for abortion clinics, and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange recently said he would stop fighting to defend Alabama’s similar law.