TIME abortion

Planned Parenthood Raises New Questions About Abortion Video Sting

Cecile Richards planned parenthood
Robert F. Bukaty—AP In this Oct. 3, 2014, file photo, Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood president, speaks in Orono, Maine.

Planned Parenthood claimed Thursday that undercover videos of its employees published by the Center for Medical Progress(CMP) contained hidden edits that raise new questions about the full context of recordings.

An analysis of the sting videos, undertaken by consulting firm Fusion GPS at Planned Parenthood’s direction, revealed at least 42 splices where video content had been edited out, but conversation appeared seamless. Congress is expected to debate continuing federal funding for Planned Parenthood when it returns from recess in September.

In a statement, CMP said the Planned Parenthood findings revealed nothing improper. “The absence of bathroom breaks and waiting periods between meetings does not change the hours of dialogue with top-level Planned Parenthood executives eager to manipulate abortion procedures to get high-quality baby parts for financially profitable sale,” the group said in a statement. “While even Planned Parenthood’s “experts” found “no evidence of audio manipulation” in the recordings, it is telling that Planned Parenthood is trying so hard to pretend that their staff did not refer to a dismembered fetus as ‘a baby’ and ‘another boy.'”

While the Planned Parenthood report concedes that it is “impossible” to determine the extent to which the edits distort the video, it also claims that the manipulation renders the videos with zero “evidentiary claim” in a legal context, unless supplemented by the original unaltered material by CMP.

In a letter written to Congressional leaders on Thursday, Planned Parenthood also contends that the Center for Medical Progress, led by anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, may have broken several laws, including California laws that prohibit non-consensual recording of individuals and the making of false charitable solicitations.

The National Abortion Federal has already filed a federal lawsuit against the CMP for illegally obtaining information. Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood, said in a press call Thursday morning that Parenthood “may consider” a similar lawsuit against Daleiden and his associates.

TIME Health Care

Planned Parenthood Protesters Rally Across the Country

Protesters held signs reading 'Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts'

Protesters gathered at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics around the country on Saturday calling for the end to federal funding for the health care provider.

The Washington Post reports the protesters held signs reading ‘Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts’ and participated in prayers and chants.

Controversy over the organization, which provides health services including abortion, erupted recently when undercover videos by anti-abortion activists purported to show Planned Parenthood personnel engaging in illegal activity and selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood has denied the allegations, arguing the videos were heavily edited and taken out of context.

MORE: Why We Still Need Fetal-Tissue Research

In a statement, Planned Parenthood vice president Eric Ferrero said, “These rallies are meant to intimidate and harass our patients, who rely on our nonprofit health centers for basic, preventive health care.”

[Washington Post]

TIME health

Planned Parenthood Will Survive—Some Women May Not

A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York City.
Mario Tama—Getty Images A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in New York City.

Women will lose access to vital, sometimes life-saving, health care when states defund Planned Parenthood

Responding to five shocking videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, government officials in Louisiana, New Hampshire and Alabama have moved to defund Planned Parenthood. Now the White House has entered the fray, warning these states that defunding may break the law.

Through a network of affiliated clinics, Planned Parenthood provides health care services to millions of women across the country, especially low-income and young women who have few options for care.

The latest controversy will negatively impact these women’s access to essential services, but Planned Parenthood itself will survive the firestorm.

A political storm

The videos purport to show that Planned Parenthood profits from the unethical sale of fetal tissue. Detractors argue that the videos prove that leaders in the organization have a “cavalier” attitude toward the sale of this tissue.

Whether these videos are true – and factcheck.org raises some questions – they have tremendous political legs. Aside from state action to defund the organization, presidential candidates from Scott Walker to Hillary Clinton have weighed in on the controversy.

But, while the videos are a hot media topic, they are nothing new.

Every six months or so, for the past several years, a heavily edited video has surfaced, throwing practices at Planned Parenthood into question.

The videos always seem to shock. But, as a scholar of the social and political histories of pregnancy and birth, I can say that their presence shouldn’t surprise us.

Planned Parenthood, the organization, has long been a political lightning rod.

Controversial origins

Margaret Sanger founded what would become Planned Parenthood in 1916.

Contraceptives were then illegal nationwide, and even providing information about them could land someone in jail. Sanger spent 30 days in prison after opening a birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York.

At that time, the idea of a “planned pregnancy” was revolutionary. Sanger and her contemporaries saw reproductive autonomy as an essential part of women’s liberation.

Detractors often point to Sanger’s ties to eugenicist movements as a way to discredit the organization, which was officially founded in 1952. This paints her politics with too broad a brush.

Sanger was, indeed, on the side of so-called “positive eugenics.” She believed that healthy, planned pregnancies would lead to healthier babies and children, and that birth control could reduce problems associated with overpopulation worldwide. She did use racializing and alienating language in her private correspondence. But, there is nothing in her record to indicate she desired, as some allege today, to use abortion as a means to genocide, or as a plot to disempower, coerce, or control poor women and women of color.

A decades-long fight

Anti-choice advocates have engaged in a decades-long fight to limit access to women’s right to abortion.

Planned Parenthood, one of the only national organizations ready to help women with that access, makes an obvious target.

But Planned Parenthood does far more than provide abortion services for women. In fact, only 3% of Planned Parenthood clients procure abortions from their clinics.

Many more women use Planned Parenthood for sexual health reasons other than abortion: for birth control, Pap smears, HIV testing, sexual health counseling and prenatal care.

The fact that abortion is what garners attention, when 97% of Planned Parenthood’s activities focus on something else, should make us ask why there is so much hysteria over Planned Parenthood’s presence in the states.

The answer might be that 3% of clients receiving abortion services is still too many for pro-life activists to accept. The fact is that this 3% makes Planned Parenthood the single largest provider of abortion in the United States.

But defunding Planned Parenthood also limits women’s access to birth control – access that actually reduces rates of abortion.

If you want fewer abortions, keeping Planned Parenthood open would be a better strategy.

So why might politicians want to restrict access to safe, effective birth control? Being able to plan and avoid pregnancies by using birth control empowers women to enjoy their sexuality. And why might politicians want to dissuade women from that?

A fiery defense

In a fiery speech on the Senate floor in defense of Planned Parenthood, Elizabeth Warren argued that opposition to women’s reproductive freedom is old-fashioned and regressive.

As Rickie Solinger, historian of women’s sexuality and the politics of birth control in the United States, has argued, when women’s independence is facilitated by their ability to time pregnancy and childbirth, that independence is seen as “fearsome.” It is seen as a rejection of motherhood as the pinnacle of women’s lives, Solinger persuasively argues.

By providing women access to safe and affordable birth control and abortion, Planned Parenthood enables women to be fearsomely free in determining the trajectory of their lives. Being able to plan and avoid and terminate pregnancies allows women to work for pay outside the home when they need or want to. It allows women to leave bad relationships and stay in good ones. It allows women access to education and promotions and other opportunities that, in 2015, are still constrained when women reproduce.

When legislators in Alabama, New Hampshire and Louisiana vote to defund Planned Parenthood, they are participating in a politics that would ask us to return to second-class citizenship. They are parroting a rhetoric that expresses fear of women’s sexuality. And they are engaging in actions that will deny women access to vital health care, reduce rates of abortion and improve maternal lives.

Moves to defund Planned Parenthood are disturbing for how regressive they are, and for how much they harken back to times when women had far fewer rights.

But, the organization has weathered many storms. And, ironically, these shock videos tend to motivate women (and the men who support and love them) to defend their doctors and their decisions.

Donations up

Donations to Planned Parenthood, for example, have increased since these videos were released. Some donations were even made in honor of anti-choice politicians.

But the fact is that women – especially poor women, young women and women of color – will lose access to vital, sometimes life-saving, health care when states defund Planned Parenthood.

The organization will live on. Some women may not.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Paraguay

An 11-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Was Denied an Abortion in Paraguay Has Given Birth

Paraguay Pregnant Girl
Jorge Saenz—AP People protest against child abuse, demanding stronger penalties for violators, in downtown Asuncion Paraguay, May 11, 2015

The girl was allegedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather

(ASUNCION, Paraguay) — An 11-year-old girl who was denied an abortion after being raped gave birth Thursday, the culmination of a case that put a spotlight on child rape in this poor South American nation and drew criticism from human rights groups.

Elizabeth Torales, a lawyer for the girl’s mother, told The Associated Press that the minor gave birth to a baby girl via cesarean in a Red Cross hospital in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital. She said reported there were no complications and both the mother and baby were resting.

“The baby doesn’t yet have a name,” said Torales, who added that her client and the girl’s grandmother had requested custody of the infant.

Hospital director Mario Villalba told reporters outside the hospital that the birth took about 35 minutes. She said the girl would remain in the hospital for three or four days, “like any other patient who has had a cesarean.” She said the minor was currently accompanied by her grandmother, but declined to give more details.

The girl was allegedly raped and impregnated by her stepfather when she was 10. The stepfather has been arrested and is awaiting trial. The girl’s mother has been charged with negligence.

The mother requested an abortion for her daughter, but the government refused to allow it, drawing praise from religious groups but criticism from many human rights organizations, including U.N. officials. Paraguay bans abortion except when a mother’s life is in danger. At the time, the girl was five months pregnant and local health officials said she appeared to be in fine health.

In a statement Thursday, Amnesty International said it was glad the girl came through the birth all right, but said the fact that “she did not die does not excuse the human rights violations she suffered at the hands of the Paraguayan authorities.”

While the case did spark some discussion about abortion in deeply socially conservative Paraguay, the focus of several protests was on better protecting children from abuse.

About 600 girls age 14 or under become pregnant each year in this country of 6.8 million people, according to local health statistics. Many people have called for stiffer penalties for abusers and the funding of education programs to help parents and authorities better spot signs of abuse.

Norma Benitez, spokeswoman for the Latin American Women’s Commission, said her group would now push the government to provide a safe environment for the girl that includes both her mother and grandmother.

“The Paraguayan state must fulfil its role of protecting children by providing a home and a dignified life” for this family, she said.

The Roman Catholic Church has wide influence in the country and was at the forefront of calls not to allow an abortion. Mariano Mercado, spokesman for the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference, reaffirmed the church’s position Thursday but didn’t talk about the girl’s case.

“Human life is sacred and should be respected and protected from the moment of conception until death,” he said.

Carlos Gilizzola, a physician who holds a seat in the Senate, said he that for four years he has been pushing legislation to increase sex education funding.

“The majority of Christian churches, led by the Catholic Church, campaigned in 2012 to make sure the bill wasn’t even taken up in committee,” he said.

In July, Pope Francis spent three days in Paraguay. He met with officials, toured a slum outside Asuncion and celebrated two Masses. While activists had hoped to bring up the case of the pregnant girl, Francis did not speak about it or focus on abortion in any of his speeches.

TIME Planned Parenthood

Activists Release Fourth Planned Parenthood Video

Planned Parenthood President Feldt
Mario Tama—Getty Images

The video shows a Colorado-based doctor

A group of anti-abortion activists released another video featuring a Planned Parenthood representative talking about fetal tissue donations.

The fourth video released by the Center for Medical Progress shows Colorado-based Dr. Savita Ginde discussing and later demonstrating the procurement of fetal tissue. In the video,which was secretly recorded, Ginde can also be seen discussing reimbursement costs.

A Los Angeles court had issued a temporary restraining order against the group from releasing any further footage surreptitiously taken of officials with a California company, but the new video was recorded in Colorado and is not affected by that order.

The video was produced in an the same vein as three others released by the group which claim Planned Parenthood is involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood, however, has repeatedly denied that is the case. In an op-ed for the Washington Post Wednesday responding to the other videos, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards apologized for the tone used by employees featured in them, but said they show nothing illegal.

“While predictably these videos do not show anything illegal on Planned Parenthood’s part, medical and scientific conversations can be upsetting to hear, and I immediately apologized for the tone that was used, which did not reflect the compassion that people have come to know and expect from Planned Parenthood,” Richards wrote.

The release of the video came Thursday as the Senate sought to vote to defund the medical services provider, though the measure is unlikely to pass a key legislative hurdle.

TIME cyberattacks

Planned Parenthood Targeted by Hackers

"We are taking every measure possible to mitigate these criminal efforts"

Planned Parenthood says it has informed the FBI and Department of Justice of a malicious attack on its servers by activist hackers who are threatening to leak the personal data of its staff.

The activists have “called on the world’s most sophisticated hackers to assist them in breaching our systems and threatening the privacy and safety of our staff members,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president at PPFA.

The hack, originally reported by the Daily Dot, appears to have been motivated by anti-abortion sentiment. “Trying to mold an atrocious monstrosity into socially acceptable behaviors is repulsive,” one of the supposed hackers told the website. “Obviously what [Planned Parenthood] does is a very ominous practice. It’ll be interesting to see what surfaces when [Planned Parenthood] is stripped naked and exposed to the public.”

Laguens called the hackersextremists who oppose Planned Parenthood’s mission and services” and said Planned Parenthood was “working with top leaders in this field to manage these attacks.”

The reported breach comes as the organization defends itself against videos from an anti-abortion group that show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has said the videos are edited and are part of a “smear campaign.”

TIME North Dakota

North Dakota’s Strict Abortion Ban Overturned

Jack Dalrymple
Mark Humphrey—AP North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple asks a question during a meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee at the National Governors Association convention on July 12, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn.

The last abortion clinic in the state can stay open

A federal appeals court has struck down North Dakota’s ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, invalidating one of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country and allowing the state’s sole abortion clinic to remain open.

In 2013, North Dakota passed a ban on abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks in some cases. The law was passed specifically to test the constitutional limits of abortion rights—when he signed it, North Dakota Gov Jack Dalrymple called it “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade,” and noted he expected legal challenges. Before the most recent appeal, the law had already been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2014. The most recent federal appeals court decision permanently blocks the law, but the state can still appeal to the Supreme Court.

The law was first blocked in 2013, which allowed North Dakota’s last abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic, to remain open throughout the whole legal battle.

“No woman should ever have to fear her constitutional rights could disappear overnight by virtue of where she lives,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement.

Earlier this year, the Eighth Circuit also struck down Alabama’s 12-week abortion ban. And in June, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked a law in Texas that would force more than half the state’s abortion clinics to close.

 

TIME Reproductive Health

Why We Still Need Fetal-Tissue Research

Planned Parenthood President Feldt
Mario Tama—Getty Images

Two sting videos that claim to implicate Planned Parenthood in the illegal practice to selling fetal tissue for a profit prompted a Congressional investigation of the organization. But it doesn’t mean that research on fetal tissue is wrong. Or that it should be stopped.

The first video released in mid-July that was secretly made by the Center for Medical Progress, a group that includes well known anti-abortion activists, centered around one question: What happens to the fetuses that result from abortions performed at Planned Parenthood? A second surreptitiously filmed video by the same group was released Tuesday. Its central question: Whether Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of such tissue. (The group insists it does not.)

Fetal tissue is valuable for medical research; the National Institutes of Health spent $76 million on fetal research in 2014, and fetal tissue has contributed to vaccines for polio, rubella and chicken pox. While recent efforts to transplant fetal tissue to treat conditions like Parkinson’s haven’t been as consistently successful, it’s still critical to scientific progress.

In the video, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services, notes that the fees Planned Parenthood charges are within laws that govern fetal tissue procurement; the fees cover the expenses of handling, storing and shipping the material, not for the material itself. But in calling for the Congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices, House Speaker John Boehner said: “When an organization monetizes an unborn child — and with the cavalier attitude portrayed in this horrific video — we must all act.”

But there’s a blurring of the ethical and political lines here that is both intentional — and intentionally misleading. It’s one that’s always shadowed anything involving fetal tissue in this country. Fetal tissue research was initially allowed under specific conditions and approval by a government Ethics Advisory Board (EAB). During the 1980s, however, as controversy over the source of the fetal tissue — mostly abortions, and primarily elective ones — became increasingly politicized, a moratorium was placed on fetal tissue studies, and the EAB was disbanded. The restriction was lifted in 1993, but the work continued to be a challenge.

The ethical and political conflicts erupted again in 1998, when researchers studying excess IVF embryos and fetuses from elective abortions made breakthroughs in understanding stem cells, the pre-cells of everything that develops in the human body. The promise represented by these stem cells, which because of their developmental potential can possibly be manipulated to replace diseased or ailing cells, raised anew the questions of whether studying tissues from unused embryos and aborted fetuses was ethically — and politically — acceptable.

MORE: Why Planned Parenthood Provides Fetal Cells to Scientists

The resulting debate hampered stem cell research in the U.S. for nearly a decade, after the George W. Bush Administration prevented federal research money from being used to study excess embryos that couples had donated after IVF. Researchers wanting to pursue this work had to find private funding or leave the country, which some did. President Obama lifted the restriction in 2009 — and now, the controversy has erupted again. And as in times past, science is getting muddied by politics.

“This video is primarily aimed not at fetal tissue research but at Planned Parenthood,” says David Magnus, director of the Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics. “I don’t think this is about the use of tissue that is already discarded. I think it’s about abortion itself. The fact that it’s not clear whether there is any actual problem in terms of [Planned Parenthood’s] behavior highlights the fact that this is politically motivated.” Several Republican presidential candidates have also criticized Planned Parenthood’s practices, invoking the organization’s “disregard for the culture of life” and it’s “penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life.”

There’s no evidence on the video that Planned Parenthood makes a profit from fetal tissue. Nucatola is recorded as saying the organization pays anywhere from $30 to $100 per specimen, and that those fees cover administrative and handling costs, not the cost of the tissue itself. (Those costs are far lower than what other companies that broker exchange of tissues from hospitals and abortion clinics to those who want to study them charge.)

Women who decide to have abortions are asked after they make their decision about whether they want to donate the fetus to research. But not every woman is even given the choice. Similar to marijuana laws, in which there is a disconnect between federal and state policies governing its legality, federal law allows donation of fetal tissue if there is no payment involved, and it doesn’t influence the woman’s decision to have an abortion, while state policies may differ.

“State and local policies, as best I can tell, are patchwork, and there is no consistency across states with regard to how [fetal] tissues are used, whether or not they are allowed to be used, etcetera,” says Debra Mathews, assistant director for science programs at the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. According to the Guttmacher Institute, six states currently prohibit fetal tissue research on aborted fetuses; three states have introduced similar statues that were struck down. And adding to the confusion, some states prohibit experimentation on “live” fetuses, attempting to make distinctions between the state of the fetus following the procedure.

Such opaque policies, and the highly contentious nature of discussing anything involving fetuses, makes it nearly impossible to fully inform women and discuss their choices in an objective way. With embryonic stem cell research, which involves use of embryos that couples donate for research, Mathews notes that there were discussions about the ethical and moral questions involved. “I don’t know that we have had robust conversations about fetal tissue,” she says. “It’s very difficult to talk about. Abortion politics in this country make it very difficult to have discussions about the use of these tissues.”

And that’s led to a situation that’s far from open when it comes to the fate of fetal tissue from abortions. “There is important research, good research, involving fetal tissues,” says Mathews. “But we have not been transparent about it. In so far as this increases the transparency, and helps us to have a conversation about the research being done, and folks are following the rules that do exist, I think that’s important.”

MORE: Here’s What Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards Had to Say to David Koch

That may be nearly impossible, however, if conservative politicians continue to corral abortion positions and fetal research positions into the same ethical pen. Magnus notes that those opposed to abortion can still support fetal tissue research, and that the two stances aren’t as mutually exclusive from an ethical perspective. “The analogy is often made of organ procurement. ‘I’m not in favor of car accidents or people shooting each other. But if tragedies happen, and somebody is shot or there is a car accident, then being able to have something good come out of that is seen largely as a good thing.’”

One question the Congressional investigation will consider is whether the decision to donate the tissue influences the way in which abortions are performed at Planned Parenthood — if it does, that too is unlawful. But it would only be unethical if it compromises the health of the woman in any way. In the video, Nucatola discusses the fact that the way the abortion is performed should be the same for every woman, regardless of whether she agreed to donate the fetal tissue or not. But she does admit that “some people will actually try to change the presentation [of the fetus]” and that “you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, …we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part…and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards issued an apology for the tone of the discussion, acknowledging that “This is unacceptable, and I personally apologize for the staff member’s tone and statements.”

But Richards defends the way that Planned Parenthood performs abortions as ethical and legal. “Our donation programs, like any other high-quality health care providers, follows all laws and ethical guidelines. [Women and families’] commitment to life-saving research, developing treatments for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s is important and compassionate. And it should be respected, not attacked,” she said in a video responding to the allegations.

But as long as the dialogue about the science and the medical potential of fetal research is entwined in the political debate over abortion, that respect — and the lives that can potentially be saved from these studies — will be hard to come by.

TIME health

Hardly Any Women Regret Having an Abortion, a New Study Finds

The conclusion comes after a three-year research period involving nearly 670 women of all social backgrounds

Ninety-five percent of women who have had abortions do not regret the decision to terminate their pregnancies, according to a study published last week in the multidisciplinary academic journal PLOS ONE.

The study was carried out by researchers from the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco’s School of Medicine, and from the university’s division of biostatistics.

Its conclusions come after a three-year research period in which nearly 670 women were regularly surveyed on the subject of their abortions. The sample group was diverse with regard to standard social metrics (race, education, and employment) and on the matter of what the study calls pregnancy and abortion circumstances. Financial considerations were given as the reasons for an abortion by 40 percent of women; 36 percent had decided it was “not the right time;” 26 percent of women found the decision very or somewhat easy; 53 percent found it very or somewhat difficult.

The authors of the study concluded that the “overwhelming majority” of the women participating in the study felt that abortion had been the right decision “both in the short-term and over three years.”

These results offer a statistical retort to the claim that women who have abortions suffer emotionally as a result, as anti-abortion campaigners claim. Previous studies cited in support of this claim, researchers said, “suffer from shortcomings, leaving the question of women’s post-abortion emotions unresolved.”

The new study is careful to avoid generalities. It discerns between having lingering emotions after an abortion and regretting the abortion altogether — two distinct responses that pro-lifers tend to conflate — and concludes that post-abortion emotional reactions are normal, but almost inevitably taper over time, and that ultimately, very few women altogether regret terminating their pregnancies.

“Certainly, experiencing feelings of guilt or regret in the short-term after an abortion is not a mental health problem; in fact, such emotions are a normal part of making a life decision that many women in this study found to be difficult,” the study reads. “Our results of declining emotional intensity… [find] steady or improving levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction, stress, social support, stress, substance use, and symptoms of depression and anxiety over time post-abortion.”

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court Keeps Texas Abortion Clinics Open for Now

Blocks restrictions from going into effect until the court decides whether to hear appeal

The Supreme Court voted Monday to temporarily block several abortion restrictions in Texas until the court decides whether to take the case on appeal.

The Court voted 5-4 to grant an emergency reprieve from the restrictions, which would have forced many Texas abortion clinics to close. Earlier this month, a lower court upheld the two restrictions, which would have required abortion clinics to meet the same building, equipment and staffing standards that surgery hospitals must meet, and required physicians who administer abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. If upheld, the restrictions would force half the abortion clinics in Texas to close, leaving the state with fewer than a dozen clinics. Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were the five majority votes, according to SCOTUSblog.

The Fifth Circuit Court previously sided with the Texas legislature, writing that the restrictions “protect the health and welfare of women seeking abortions,” and adding that “there is no question that this is a legitimate purpose that supports regulating physicians and the facilities in which they perform abortions.” Major medical groups like the American Medical Association say that the restrictions “impede, rather than serve, public health objectives,” and reproductive rights advocates say they’re expressly designed to restrict access to abortion.

“We are grateful the Supreme Court has stepped in to protect women’s access to safe, legal abortion, for now. Restricting or banning abortion blocks women from getting safe medical care,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “This dangerous law never should have passed in the first place — which is why we need to elect leaders who will champion women’s health and rights.”

The Supreme Court decision does not strike down the restrictions—it merely prevents them from going into effect until the Court decides whether or not to hear an appeal from the clinics. If the law stays as it is, the abortion regulations in Texas will be among the most restrictive in the country.

The Court is also hearing a similar case from Mississippi, involving the requirement that doctors get admitting privileges at a local hospital. If the Court upholds that restriction, the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi may be forced to close. The Court may issue a decision on that case as early as Tuesday.

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