After months of organizing, supporting other reproductive rights organizations and attending three separate rallies, we are ecstatic that the Supreme Court of the United States heard women today and ruled in favor of Whole Women’s Health. There is no doubt about it: SCOTUS’s firm stance against the backwards sham laws that restrict women’s access to abortion is a victory for all women and will countless save lives.
Since House Bill 2 passed in Texas, 23 clinics have been closed because the law required all doctors to have local admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and clinics to upgrade their facilities to hospital-like standards. None of these provisions are necessary for making abortion safe. In fact, the vast majority of abortions that are carried out by professionals in clinics are safe. Legal abortions is far safer for women than giving birth.
The argument that HB2 was created to make clinics safer is an outright lie and anti-choicers know this. Today, as we stood with other activists and reproductive rights organizations, “pro-life activists,” the majority of whom were young men from religious schools, chanted that they would be the “generation to end abortion.” If they are truly concerned with ensuring that women’s clinics have the “highest standard for safety and quality,” why are they chanting that they will stop all abortions? Why are they closing down clinics? Why are they making women who made difficult decisions about their own bodies, feel guilty with gruesome photos of what they claim are aborted fetuses?
The law, of course, had nothing to do with improving standards and everything to do with (you guessed it) restricting women’s access to abortion. In fact, when asked at the court, defenders of the law failed to show even one case of a woman being helped to get better treatment because of HB2. The law has literally helped zero women. On the other hand, the closure of clinics that followed forced Texan women to travel across state and national borders to access medication for abortion. It left improvished women living in low-income communities without access to means for traveling long distances for abortion services even more vulnerable and increased the rate of DIY abortions to astaggering level. If SCOTUS had not stricken HB2 down, Texas would have been left with only 10 clinics for the entire state.
For all the reasons above, and to prevent more clinics from closing and more women from being in danger of unsafe and rogue abortion procedures, the SCOTUS decision is a laudable and a great accomplishment for women in Texas around the country. The ruling also ensures that anti-choice activists and politicians will no longer be able to use unrealistic and unnecessary regulations and standards as an excuse to close clinics and force women to resort to dangerous back-alley procedures. This decision shows that America will not be fooled by the thinly veiled war on choice that has been wrapped in the rhetoric of freedom of religion or raising health standards for clinics.
Today’s victory was a bold and clear “No” to anti-choice protesters. No more sham excuses to silence, shame, marginalize and endanger women who need health care. No more making women’s clinics a battlefield or women’s bodies a weapon to feel righteous or morally superior. But we know too well that anti-choice lobbyists, politicians and protesters will not stop here. They will continue to find ways to make access harder, and we must ensure that they get no say in whether or not women have access to abortion or other reproductive healthcare services.