Since it was legalized in 1973, abortion has long caused division among civilians and lawmakers. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its first major abortion ruling in almost ten years.
The decision will determine the legality of a law passed in the state of Texas by a Republican majority in 2013, which requires abortion specialists to have “admitting privileges” at a hospital at least 30 miles apart from the clinic. This refers to a history and physical, which is basically a medical record of the patient. The ruling also dictates that abortion clinics have specialized equipment.
Texas is one of the eight states that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges or some formal credential.
Abortion regulations and obstacles
Abortion is one of the topics that causes lots of division among voters. An online poll performed by Reuters surveyed 6,769 people. It resulted in 47 percent being in favor of abortion being legal and 42 percent being in opposition.
Perhaps the main reason why abortion has not yet been made entirely legal is that the rates have been steadily dropping. This is mainly because there is a broader and much more efficient use of contraceptives, thus reducing the incidence of pregnancies and abortions altogether.
Supreme Court rulings have a long history of being a beacon of how abortion procedures were treated on a legal basis in the U.S. Back in 1973, a 7 to 2 ruling dictated that women had the right to choose whether to end a pregnancy or not, since then, abortion has remained conditionally legal.
Although abortion is legal on a federal level, the Supreme Court allows for each state to impose its regulations on the procedure. Currently, 20 states require that every abortion patient has an ultrasound before having the procedure. In the case of Texas, the ultrasound would have to be administered by her abortion doctor, and she is ruled to “listen to a state-mandated description of the fetus she was about to abort.” This ruling was subsequently modified through guidelines which allowed mothers to circumvent the ultrasound if the fetus was diagnosed with an irreversible medical condition.
What to expect on Monday’s ruling
Many obstacles have been raised for women not to have unrestricted access to abortion, which leads to the case to be ruled on Monday. The case brought by Whole Woman’s Health states that the regulations for abortion patients in the state of Texas have no use and that their ultimate goal is to lead abortion clinics to closure.
According to Texas administration, the law was issued to protect the abortion patient’s health by ensuring quality medical treatment through the availability of a patient’s medical record and hospital-grade equipment on the clinics. These sorts of equipment are expensive, and because abortion clinics are not able to provide the same emergency services like hospitals, Texas lawmakers used this as leverage to impose the ruling.
Due to the passing of conservative Antonin Scalia, the court is now composed of 4 conservatives and four liberals. Many expect a split-even decision, which would result in a lower court determining the viability of the ruling issued by the state of Texas.