Brittney Martin of The Dallas Morning News explains:
The justices will determine whether two provisions of the law, requiring doctors who perform abortions to maintain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring all abortions to be performed in hospital-like surgical centers, create an unconstitutional obstacle for women seeking abortions.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the provisions in June, but the Supreme Court put the facilities requirement on hold while they considered a review. Two other provisions of the 2013 law, which ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and regulate the administration of abortion-inducing pills, are not currently being challenged.
The state argues that the regulations will decrease the risk of complications for abortion patients. But opponents say the procedure is already safe.
Of the more than 360,000 women who had abortions in Texas from 2009 to 2013, no one died due to complications. And in 2013, the most recent year for which state statistics are available, less than 1 percent of women seeking abortions experienced a complication.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the provisions were “common-sense.”
“The state has wide discretion to pass laws ensuring Texas women are not subject to substandard conditions at abortion facilities,” Paxton said in a statement. “The advancement of the abortion industry’s bottom line shouldn’t take precedent over women’s health, and we look forward to demonstrating the validity of these important health and safety requirements in Court.”
While the immediate goal for the Texas abortion providers that filed the suit is to keep their clinics open, they also recognize that the case will affect abortion restrictions nationwide.
“My hope is that we can show that regulations like this are — without question — an undue burden, and that they’re not based in safety or medicine, but that they are a political tool to take the rights away from women,” said Amy Hagstom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four abortion clinics in Texas.
Again, the reality here is that TRAP laws are designed to close abortion clinics. Should the Texas law be upheld, expect more states to implement them to the point where the regulations become so onerous that all clinics are closed. The goal here is the de facto end of legalized abortion, and the "legalized" is the important part. Women will turn to other methods if no legal means are available, and they will risk serious medical harm and death as a result.
I guarantee you there are already 4 votes to give states all the leeway on TRAP laws that they want, and none of those four justices that will side with Texas in this case happen to have a vagina.
Besides, it's going to be a rough, rough June for the candidates on both sides heading into next November:
And now it is official: Contraception, abortion, affirmative action, and unions on the court's docket before the presidential election.— Irin Carmon (@irin) November 13, 2015