In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Texas laws that severely restricted abortion access, the question left to be answered is what (if any) implications does the ruling have on existing restrictive abortion laws across the United States. In the Texas case ruling, the Court found that the law’s requirements—that abortion clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and clinics, and meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers—were medically groundless and presented undue burden on women’s rights to abortion and thus, in violation of the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where the court affirmed that states could restrict abortions to protect women’s health as long as those limits did not create undue burden.
While this new ruling represents a breakthrough in the fight for reproductive rights for women across the country, the ruling does not automatically nullify any existing restrictive laws in place – a prime example – North Dakota. North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic, the Red River Women’s Clinic, presently operates under a state law passed in 2013 that requires that it have hospital-admitting privileges. Although a similar law was struck down in the Texas case, the Supreme Court’s decision does not mean the immediate reversal of North Dakota’s law since the Red River Women’s Clinic already has admitting privileges at Sanford. In fact, for the Court’s ruling to apply, reproductive rights activists and attorneys in North Dakota would have to show that this existing law poses undue burden on women’s access to abortion.
Indeed, while the SCOTUS ruling comes as a victory, it is important that we recognize that the work to protect women’s reproductive rights is far from over. In the past five years alone, politicians across the country have quietly passed more than 300 restrictions on access to abortion. The ACLU believes that it’s long past time for politicians to stop interfering in a decision that should be between a woman, her family, and her doctor. No matter how you feel about abortion, it is important that we all recognize that the decisions concerning a woman’s body should not be left to politicians.