It’s (an Unconstitutional) TRAP! | Vol. 3 / No. 35.5

Good news! | Photo: Timothy Krause, CC BY 2.0


I don’t often write happy posts. This is partly because I have a bitter, cynical soul in which happiness roosts uneasily. It’s mostly because it just generally sucks to be a woman. But occasionally I get to be happy about something going on in the world. Or at least relieved that the world isn’t backsliding, even if it’s not exactly progressing. This week is one of those occasions, because this week the Supreme Court declared Texas’ horrible HB2 unconstitutional.

I wrote a few months ago about HB2, and how it is a terrible, ridiculous law, and how Ruth Bader Ginsburg tore through the state’s “women’s health” justification like it was tissue paper. In a fantastic 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the whole premise is not only ridiculous, it is unconstitutional. Of course, a lot of the damage is already done; over half of Texas’ abortion clinics have already closed. But now the remaining clinics will not be forced to meet onerous, expensive, and (often in the case of receiving admitting privileges) impossible demands. And some of those closed clinics may be able to reopen.

What is more encouraging is that this decision will likely be far-reaching. Seven states are currently facing legal challenges over their abortion laws that either require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, require abortion clinics to be ambulatory surgical centers, or both.  Both of these types of restrictions were declared unconstitutional:

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.

Even more states have similar restrictions that haven’t been legally challenged yet, though I certainly hope they will be now.

Now because I’m me, I won’t let myself celebrate for too long. After all, this decision doesn’t so much progress abortion rights as it returns abortion rights to where they were supposed to be since the freaking 1970s. But regaining ground is regaining ground. Conservatives have wholeheartedly embraced TRAP laws as a seemingly fool-proof strategy; after all, it combines the beloved national pastimes of “concern-trolling women,” “telling women what to do with their bodies,” and “being as hypocritical as humanly possible.” Now that the Supreme Court has gouged out two of the most-used justifications of these laws, people might have to start accepting that abortion is actually legal. Like for realsies.


Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not celebrating every hard-earned victory, she studies gender in  popular culture.


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