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Supreme Court Rejects Texas Abortion Law


    The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Texas went too far in regulating a woman’s ability to end a pregnancy.

    Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion for the 5-3 majority. He said the Texas law is not medically necessary, and unconstitutionally limited a woman’s right to an abortion. Abortion is a medical procedure used to end a pregnancy.

    The Supreme Court justices were deciding whether a 2013 Texas law was constitutional. The law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals located near their clinics. It also required abortion clinics to meet surgical requirements for patients similar to those for patients at hospitals.

    Breyer said those requirements provide few, if any, improvements for women’s health. But, he said they make it harder for women to get abortions.

    In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that women have a right to decide to end a pregnancy through abortion.

    The Center for Reproductive Rights says the ruling will likely put an end to laws in nine other states that are similar to the Texas law. Wisconsin, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri have similar laws to the one in Texas. Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Florida also have such laws.

    The Supreme Court ruled on another highly disputed case related to guns on Monday.

    The court said that people convicted of domestic abuse, even for a lesser criminal charge, or misdemeanor, can be barred from owning guns. Domestic abuse is when someone is violent toward a wife or husband, or other partner.

    Two men had disputed the ban on guns, saying they had hit a romantic partner in an argument, not in a pre-planned attack.

    Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion for the 6-2 majority. She rejected the men’s argument.

    “A person who assaults another recklessly uses force, no less than one who carries out that same action knowingly or intentionally,” Kagan wrote.

    And in another well-known case, the Supreme Court threw out the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

    McDonnell was found guilty of accepting gifts from a businessman who sought his help selling his product. The gifts, which included a Rolex watch, were worth more than $175,000.

    Chief Justice John Roberts said that while McDonnell’s actions are “distasteful,” the federal government went too far in building a bribery case. The court’s ruling was 8-0.

    People on both sides on the abortion issue gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
    People on both sides on the abortion issue gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday

    But it was the abortion ruling that got the most attention of the three major decisions released Monday. The three rulings came as the Supreme Court neared the end of its 2015-2016 term.

    Three justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, opposed the majority ruling against the Texas abortion law. They released what is called a dissent – meaning they disagreed with the decision of the majority.

    Thomas quoted from an earlier written statement by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia wrote that the some justices “bend the rules when any effort to limit abortion. Or even to speak in opposition to abortion, is at issue.”

    Scalia died in February. He has not been replaced on the Supreme Court. That has left the court with only eight of its regular nine judges.

    Lawyers for Texas abortion clinics brought the abortion case. They said the 2013 Texas law had reduced the number of abortion clinics from 40 to about half of that in the state. The number would drop to 10 if the law is allowed to fully take effect, the lawyers said.

    That would require Texas women seeking abortions to travel long distances to their nearest abortion centers.

    “Without question, today's ruling is a game changer in what has been an unrelenting assault on women's rights across the country,” said Nancy Northup. She is president of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

    Texas Governor Gregg Abbott said the Supreme Court ruling “subjects more innocent life to being lost.”

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the Supreme Court “has taken the ability to protect women’s health out of the hands of Texas citizens and their duly-elected representatives.”

    I’m John Russell.

    Ken Bredemeier reported on this story for VOA News. Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    regulatev. to make rules or laws that control something

    privilegen. a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others


    surgical adj. of or relating to the process of performing a medical operation

    assaultn. to physically attack someone

    recklesslyadv. not showing proper concern about the possible bad results of your actions

    intentionallyadv. to do something on purpose or as planned

    bend the rulesidiomatic phrase. to not be strict or exact about following a rule

    unrelentingadj. not slowing down, stopping, or growing weaker