Women's bodies have been the center of many political debates recently, and there haven't been a lot of victories—but today is an exception. On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to strike down a restrictive Texas abortion law that had shut down more than half of the state's clinics since it was passed.
The 2013 law said that abortion clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical standards, and that doctors had to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals within a 30 mile distance from the clinic, according to NBC News.
The Republican-backed law did not take into account that many women who receive abortions do so by pill or by a 10-minute procedure that they stay awake for. Supporters of the bill argued that it was meant to protect women and keep them safe during abortion procedures, while opponents argued that the rules were unnecessary and were passed with the aim of shutting down clinics and making it almost impossible for women to get abortions.
Reuters reported that since the law was passed, the number of abortion clinics in Texas dropped from 42 to 19, with the fear of that number dropping even lower.
"There was no significant health-related problem that the new law helped to cure," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion. "We agree with the District Court that the surgical-center requirement, like the admitting-privileges requirement, provides few, if any, health benefits for women, poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions, and constitutes an "undue burden" on their constitutional right to do so."
Along with Breyer, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan voted to strike down the Texas law. Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented.
In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to severely restrict abortion in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade, which has been met with intense opposition by conservatives and religious groups ever since. Today's ruling was a major victory for women's health.
"This is a win for women," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "Every person must have the right to make their own personal decisions about abortion, and we will fight like hell to ensure they do."