The Supreme Court announced today that it will review a Texas anti-abortion law that threatens to close more than 75 percent of abortion clinics in the state and deny millions of women access to safe, legal abortion.
“Today, my heart is filled with hope,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and president of Whole Woman’s Health, the lead plaintiff in the case. “Although this is the first step in a much longer process, I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will uphold the rights that have been in place for four decades and reaffirm that every woman should be able to make her own decision about continuing or ending a pregnancy.”
“I have hope,” Hagstrom Miller continued, “for my staff members, who, for years, have poured themselves into providing Texas women with high-quality and comprehensive reproductive health care. And most of all, I have hope for the families and communities all across Texas who now may be able to get the safe and comprehensive care they need from a clinic they trust.”
Last week at its Women Money Power Summit, the Feminist Majority and the Feminist Majority Foundation honored Hagstrom Miller with a Courage Award.
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court has decided to review this politically motivated law, whose goal is to end abortion access and all but overturn Roe v. Wade,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President (and publisher of Ms.) Eleanor Smeal. “Laws designed to force the closure of women’s reproductive health clinics are not only discriminatory, they are dangerous for women. The Supreme Court should expose the Texas law, and all those like it, for what they are—an end run around Roe—and reaffirm the constitutional right of millions of women to access safe, legal abortion.”
The Supreme Court will likely hear the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole in 2016. The case challenges two provisions of Texas’ omnibus abortion law, known as HB2. The first provision, which has already forced more than half of the clinics in the state to close, requires providers to secure hospital admitting privileges. The second provision forces clinics to fulfill costly, medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center (ASC) requirements.
Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have spoken out against both the ASC and admitting privileges requirements as medically unnecessary. Without any medical justification, all these laws seek to do is make it increasingly difficult—or even impossible—for a woman to get an abortion.
“We are confident the court will recognize that these laws are a sham and stop these political attacks on women’s rights, dignity, and access to safe, legal essential health care,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Whole Woman’s Health and other providers in the case.
The Supreme Court has twice stepped in to temporarily block the law from fully going into effect—once in October 2014 and again in June 2015. The 2014 decision came after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that both restrictions could take effect even though the case was still being heard in court. The Supreme Court’s decision kept the ASC requirement from going into effect until the Fifth Circuit could make a final ruling on the law’s constitutionality. When the Fifth Circuit issued its final decision in June, upholding both requirements, the Supreme Court again stepped in to temporarily block the decision, maintaining the status quo while the clinics continued their legal challenge back to the Supreme Court.
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