The Supreme Court voted to throw out a restrictive Texas abortion law on Monday, giving pro-choice supporters a surprising win in what's been a tough few years for women's health and agency. However, even the dramatic ruling won't bring back the closed clinics anytime soon.
The law had already closed more than 20 facilities, but if had been upheld, the number of available clinics likely would have dropped to only 10. Unnecessarily stringent requirements for abortions to be preformed in expensive, hospital-like facilities put many of the smaller clinics that couldn’t afford upgrades out of business.
CNN reports that Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the majority opinion, stating 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.”
However, overturning the law that closed the clinics doesn't guarantee that they will be replaced, the Associated Press reports. Women in Texas may still be restricted to the current available clinics, as it could take years for new ones to open. This issue with creating new facilities lies in the sheer amount of preparation that is needed to reinstate them. In addition to a building, a clinic obviously needs employees, as well as certain supplies and licenses —and getting all that together takes time.
Currently, the main clinics are located in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, which does not account for women outside of heavily populated areas, and wait times can stretch to more than 20 days. Organizations like Whole Women's Health and Planned Parenthood are going to work on opening more Texas clinics, but leaders warned the AP that it would be a lengthy process.
Although SCOTUS's ruling undid a serious violation of women's rights, there's still a long road ahead for women in the fight for their right to choose.