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The Brief: Court Strikes Down Texas Abortion Restrictions

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory to Texas abortion rights activists on Monday when it struck down two restrictions central to the state’s controversial 2013 abortion law.

Lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom-Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, smiles as she arrives to speak outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the court handed a victory to abortion rights advocates, striking down a Texas law imposing strict regulations on abortion doctors and facilities in Washington on June 27, 2016.

The Big Conversation

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory to Texas abortion rights activists and a blow to their opponents on Monday when it struck down two restrictions central to the state’s controversial 2013 abortion law.

As the Tribune’s Alexa Ura reports, the 5-3 decision found that two House Bill 2 provisions regulating abortion providers were unconstitutional because they represented an undue burden on a woman’s right to seek an abortion. More than 20 clinics in Texas have ceased providing abortions since parts of HB 2 took effect, and more were expected to close had the high court upheld the law.

In its defense, Texas had argued that the restrictions were enacted in the interest of women’s safety, but Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the Court, argued that the state had failed to prove that they benefited patients’ health

Activists who oppose abortion immediately condemned the decision, with conservative lawmakers predicting that the Legislature will look to further restrict abortion when it convenes in 2017. State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, told the Tribune’s Edgar Walters that he had “never been this upset before” and would expect an absolute onslaught of pro-life legislation in the next session.

Supporters of abortion rights hailed the ruling as a vindication for women’s rights — and for former state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat who rose to national prominence three years ago when she led an 11-hour filibuster of the legislation.

The thousands of people that showed up at the Capitol that day demonstrated what we can do when we decide that were going to fight — that we're not going to take things sitting down — I believe that it’s helped spark other actions like that, Davis told Ura.

Still, providers warn that abortion clinics that closed in the wake of HB 2 won’t be quick to reopen: The Tribune’s Aneri Pattani writes that some will need to reapply for licenses, among other obstacles.

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Anti-Regulation Party in Texas Has a Strong Taste for Rules, by Ross Ramsey — Monday's Supreme Court ruling against two key provisions of the state's anti-abortion law was the latest setback for a band of Republicans who abhor regulatory constraints on business but who regularly try to control the behavior of individuals in Texas.

What the Supreme Court Abortion Ruling Means for Texas Women, by Alexa Ura — On its face, the Supreme Court's ruling on Texas' far-reaching abortion law seems clear: House Bill 2 is unconstitutional. But the implications may not be as straightforward. Here are five things you need to know to understand the landmark ruling.

Texas Abortion Clinics That Have Closed Since 2013, by Alexa Ura, Ryan Murphy, Annie Daniel and Lindsay Carbonell — Though the Supreme Court on Monday handed Texas abortion providers a major victory by striking down the state’s most stringent abortion restrictions, House Bill 2 leaves behind a trail of shuttered clinics. Take a look. 

A Border Rancher Explains the Art Of Survival, by Jay Root — For more than two centuries, the Escobar family has ranched along the Rio Grande. For almost as long, smugglers have moved people and product across their property.

UT Poll: Trump Leads Clinton by 8 in Texas, by Patrick Svitek — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leads Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 8 percentage points in Texas, according to a University of Texas/Texas Politics Project Poll released Monday.

Houston Law Schools in Fight Over Names, by Matthew Watkins — The University of Houston sued the erstwhile South Texas College of Law for trademark infringement on Monday for changing its name to the Houston College of Law. 

DMV Board Votes to Hike Some Vehicle Registration Fees, by Madlin Mekelburg — Over the objection of some local officials, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board passed proposals Monday that will impact how much Texans pay for vehicle registrations as well as potentially drive some private firms out of business.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision Reverberates in Presidential CampaignThe New York Times

Supreme Court's abortion decision prompts flurry of legal action, San Antonio Express-News

Explained: The Texas abortion case ruling is the latest legal milestone, Houston Chronicle

Legacy of Texas abortion law likely to be long-shuttered clinics, Austin American-Statesman

Ted Cruz slides in poll, leaving Greg Abbott king of the Texas GOP, Austin American-Statesman

Fewer than half of Bernie Sanders backers in Texas say they'll vote for Clinton, poll shows, The Dallas Morning News

Texit isn't happening, says Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Can we stop talking about it now?, The Dallas Morning News

Ahead of Trump, Brady part of 'Better' GOP agenda, Houston Chronicle

Three candidates take aim at Ellis' vacated seat, Houston Chronicle

Without federal funding, counties brace to confront Zika on their own, The Washington Post

Senate to Take Up House Bill on Zika Funding, Barbs and All, The New York Times

Ethics Committee discloses probe of Texas GOP Rep. Williams, The Associated Press

Dimmit County rejects proposed immigration facility, San Antonio Express-News

How school quality contributed to San Antonio's lopsided growth, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“We have found nothing in Texas’ record evidence that shows that, compared to prior law ... the new law advanced Texas’ legitimate interest in protecting women’s health.”

 — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, writing for the majority in its decision to overturn two restrictions on abortion providers passed as part of 2013’s House Bill 2

Today in TribTalk

Supreme Court's abortion decision is a win for Texas women, by Andrea Ferrigno — In its decision, the court has acknowledged that the right to abortion must not and cannot be rendered meaningless by laws designed to close clinics and punish women.

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