On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled against two restrictions a 2013 Texas law placed on abortion clinics and providers in the state. The restrictions — that abortion clinics must qualify as "ambulatory surgical centers" and that abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital — significantly restricted women's access to abortion services in the state. Though proponents of the restrictions have argued that they help ensure women's safety, Sen. Marco Rubio's tweet about the SCOTUS abortion ruling is telling. It's not about women's safety, but about chipping away at abortion access.
When the case was first heard on the state level, the Texas legislature received testimony from a number of medical experts who listed complications that sometimes occur during an abortion — including uterine perforation and hemorrhaging — which require emergency care, which sites that qualify as ambulatory surgical centers are equipped to manage. The testimony also claimed that admitting privileges require a doctor to be monitored by a hospital, and thus help to ensure physicians' competence.
However, the legislature also received testimony from five major medical associations, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stating that the restrictions were unnecessary because: 1) the complication rate for abortion is extremely low, 2) abortion is not a surgical procedure, as it doesn't involve an incision into the body, and 3) doctors may not qualify for admitting privileges at a hospital for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with their competence.
The Supreme Court made its 5-3 decision against the Texas court's ruling based on the evidence provided by the five major medical associations showing that the restrictions proposed are unnecessary for protecting women. They were seen, rather, as unconstitutional, because they placed an undue burden on women concerning abortion access. The SCOTUS ruling reads:
We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access ... and each violates the Federal Constitution.
Rubio didn't bother with the justification that the restrictions imposed by the Texas law had anything to do with medical benefits for women. His tweet showed that he supported the restrictions as part of his "fight for life" and effort to "protect the unborn" by creating barriers to abortion access, which is in direct defiance of previous, long-established Supreme Court decisions that render placing "undue burden" on abortion access unconstitutional.
Rubio's candor concerning Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt may will likely be praised by fellow conservatives. But with Monday's ruling, the Supreme Court showed that it's not sold on the "women's health" angle, and that they won't stop fighting for women.