According to an Idaho law professor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday striking down Texas' restrictions on abortion clinics is precedent-setting for future abortion access laws.
“This ruling definitively clarifies how cases concerning abortion rights will be analyzed, providing more guidance for lower courts in the future,” said University of Idaho Professor Shaakirah Sanders, who specializes in individual rights. “The precedent has been set, discouraging lawmakers from proposing future laws that would restrict access to abortion.”
In a 5-3 vote, the high court shut down Texas House Bill 2, which had forced hospital-like standards on clinics and insisted clinic physicians have hospital admitting privileges. Opponents criticized the law, arguing the restrictions would force many clinics to close their doors. The Supreme Court ruled the Texas law did not, in effect, promote the health and safety of women.
“The court made very clear that a law for health and safety is insufficient without proper evidence,” said Sanders. “Without such evidence, the law constitutes an undue burden on the mother.”
Sanders said the Gem State has seen its own share of abortion-restricting measures at the Idaho Statehouse. For example, she pointed to a proposed Senate bill in 2012 that would have required an ultrasound before any abortion.
“In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, [the Idaho bill] would have had to provide definitive evidence showing it would have a positive effect on the health and safety of the mother,” said Sanders.
While the ruling may not halt all proposals for restrictive abortion access bills, legal scholars said it sends a clear message on how those measure might be handled in future Supreme Court cases.
“I hope it causes members to be more thoughtful as to how a law will affect a woman’s health, factoring in the severity and impact of policies on women,” said Sanders.