Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

Victory for Reproductive Justice!

In the most important case on abortion in twenty years, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 to that the state of Texas cannot impose onerous burdens on the state’s abortion clinics.

Whole Woman’s Health challenged two provisions of a Texas law, HB2, that impose specific regulations on doctors and facilities that provide abortions. One requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles; one requires abortion clinics to meet the standards for an ambulatory surgical center. These are both prohibitively expensive and medically unnecessary.

There is no medical evidence in support of either requirement. In reality, they are designed to close clinics that provide abortion care.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in this case in March. The decision was 5-3, meaning that Justice Scalia’s presence would not have affected the outcome. The decision is a victory of historic proportions for abortion rights advocates. Clinics in Texas can now stay opened, and similar laws in six southern states and Wisconsin will also likely be permanently struck down.

The Supreme Court has held over the past decades that a law places an unconstitutional undue burden on a woman’s access to abortion if the law has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before viability.

Here in California, our state leads the nation in ensuring that all Californians residents have equal access to reproductive and sexual healthcare, including abortion, affordable birth control, and prenatal care.

The ACLU’s work to protect a woman’s ability to get an abortion if she needs one is far from over. In the past five years alone, politicians across the country have quietly passed more than 300 restrictions on access to abortion.

It’s long past time for politicians to stop interfering in a decision that should be between a woman, her family, and her doctor.

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