Major victory for abortion rights in US
Washington, June 28
The US Supreme Court yesterday struck down a Texas law restricting access to abortion, handing a major victory to the “pro-choice” camp in the country’s most important ruling on the divisive issue in a generation.
Crowds of passionate activists from both sides of the debate shed tears of joy and dismay outside the court over the closely-watched decision, which has far-reaching implications for millions of women across the United States.
The black-robed justices ruled by 5-3 to strike down the Texas measures which activists say have forced more than half of abortion clinics to close in the second most-populous US state, with the conservative-leaning Anthony Kennedy siding with his four liberal colleagues on the bench.
President Barack Obama joined civil rights activists and women’s health providers in hailing a milestone for abortion rights, with the issue now set to be thrust centre stage in the White House race.
“Every woman has a constitutional right to make her own reproductive choices. I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court reaffirm that fact today,” Obama tweeted.
Outside the court, pro-choice activists breathed a collective sigh of relief. “I’m all about life and love and babies,” said Nita Amar, a 63-year-old labour and delivery nurse. “But if women lose access to abortion rights, they’re going to go back to the alleys and use coat hangers again.”
Others were distraught however.“I’m devastated. I just cried,” said 25-year-old “pro-life” activist Sarah Manning, who came with husband Jonathan and their seven-month-old baby Joshua.
“How many more people will die because of this ruling?”Under the Texas legislation, doctors who perform abortions were required to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and their clinics needed to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical centre.
Justice Stephen Breyer, said, “We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.”
The court ruled that both provisions placed “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion” that “each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access” and “each violates the Federal Constitution.”
“When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in a concurring opinion.