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US Supreme Court strikes down restrictive Texas abortion law

Protesters outside the Supreme Court on June 17, 2016.
Karen James | CNBC
Protesters outside the Supreme Court on June 17, 2016.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to abortion rights advocates, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities that its critics contended were specifically designed to shut down clinics.

The 5-3 ruling held that the Republican-backed 2013 law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to end a pregnancy established in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The normally nine-justice court was one member short after the Feb. 13 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who consistently opposed abortion in past rulings.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton immediately issued a response to the ruling on Twitter.



The decision comes against a backdrop of unremitting divisions among Americans on the issue and a decades-long decline in the rate at which women terminate pregnancies.

The court's decision on whether a Republican-backed 2013 Texas law placed an undue burden on women exercising their constitutional right to abortion was one of three remaining cases for the court to decide on Monday, the last day of its term.

The last time the justices decided a major abortion case was nine years ago when they ruled 5-4 to uphold a federal law banning a late-term abortion procedure.

Americans remain closely divided over whether abortion should be legal. In a Reuters/Ipso online poll involving 6,769 U.S. adults conducted from June 3 to June 22, 47 percent of respondents said abortion generally should be legal and 42 percent said it generally should be illegal.

The Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

The law in Texas, one of a number of conservative states that have pursued restrictions on abortion, requires abortion doctors to have "admitting privileges," a type of formal affiliation, at a hospital within 30 miles (48 km) of the clinic. It also requires clinics to have costly hospital-grade facilities.

—CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld contributed to this report.