The Texas Catholic Conference expressed disappointment with the US Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision, made on June 29, which temporarily blocks Texas from enforcing new requirements on abortion clinics that would force many of them to close.
The Texas law requires the clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers when performing abortions. Other provisions of the law, such as requiring abortion doctors to have hospital privileges and prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks gestation, were not affected.
In a June 9 ruling, the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the law, and rejected pleas by abortion clinics to suspend its implementation while it is appealed. The Supreme Court ruling prevents enforcement of the law until the autumn when the high court will decide if the justices should hear an appeal from a lower court.
A June 30 statement from the Catholic conference, the public policy arm of the Texas Catholic bishops, said the bishops “grieve for the unborn children who will continue to die, and are concerned for the mothers who will subjected to sub-standard care, while the court delays until the (autumn) to resolve this issue.”
“While the Texas Catholic Conference opposes abortion, it equally values protecting and preserving the health of women, whose lives and dignity are just as precious as those destroyed by the act of abortion,” the statement said.
“Short of closing these abortion facilities, abortionists must meet the most rigourous, mandatory standards of medical inspections and regulation,” the statement added.
Legal analyst Lyle Denniston, writing for the SCOTUSblog, a blog on the Supreme Court, said on June 29 that in the one-paragraph order on the ruling the justices did not explain why they were postponing consideration of the law.
If a review of the law is denied later, the order will be lifted, but if review is granted, it will stay in effect until there is a final ruling, Denniston added. He also noted that the actual petition for review has not yet been filed by the doctors and clinics involved in the appeal.
The Supreme Court was considering a similar appeal from Mississippi, which was seeking to enforce a hospital admissions privileges requirement that opponents say would force the state’s last abortion clinic to close. That law has been blocked by the 5th Circuit, the same court involved in the Texas case.
In its final rulings issued on June 30, the court did not act on a challenge to Mississippi’s abortion restrictions in Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation.