SCOTUS takes up HB2 case called Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, Roe v. Wade may be in jeopardy
This afternoon at the Supreme Court, for the first time since 2007 in Gonzales v. Carhart, they have decided to take up an abortion-related case in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a court case that will decide the legality of anti-abortion Texas HB2 (and other similar laws) and possibly erode or end Roe v. Wade if the Court rules in favor of keeping HB2 intact.
AUSTIN — The U.S. Supreme Court will review portions of Texas’ landmark 2013 abortion law, the court announced Friday, taking up the constitutionality of restrictions on doctors and facilities that have led over half of the state’s abortion clinics to close.
The court’s ruling, which probably wouldn’t come until next summer, should provide guidance on how far states can go to regulate abortion.
The justices will determine whether two provisions of the law, requiring doctors who perform abortions to maintain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and requiring all abortions to be performed in hospital-like surgical centers, create an unconstitutional obstacle for women seeking abortions.
The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the provisions in June, but the Supreme Court put the facilities requirement on hold while they considered a review. Two other provisions of the 2013 law, which ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and regulate the administration of abortion-inducing pills, are not currently being challenged.
The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it will hear Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, a case that presents a greater threat to a woman’s right to choose an abortion than any other that the Court has heard in the last 23 years. At issue is whether states can enact laws that appear, at least on the surface, to function as health regulations, but that actually exist to restrict or even shut down access to abortion.
If the Supreme Court holds that states can use such sham health laws in order to restrict abortion, that could effectively be the end of a constitutional right to abortive care, as the only limit on anti-abortion laws could be lawmakers’ and advocates’ creativity in finding new ways to disguise abortion restrictions as health regulations.
The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, will address how far Texas can go to pass restrictions on abortion providers. Specifically at issue are two measures signed into law that require abortion facilities in Texas to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (where outpatient surgery is performed) and require doctors who perform abortions to have admissions privileges at a nearby hospital.
Opponents of the law have argued that the law effectively shutters many of the clinics now operating in parts of the state.
In June, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the restriction. Later that month, in a 5–4 vote, the Supreme Court put that ruling on hold pending the outcome of any appeal.
The court will hear the case in early 2016, with a decision expected by late June 2016.
Irin Carmon on HB2’s effects:
Another abortion-related case, Currier v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was NOT taken up at SCOTUS (at least for now).
Originally published at www.dailykos.com on November 13, 2015.