Major Abortion Case Heads to the Supreme Court

January 14, 2016

Abortion Rights supporters at the 2015 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Elvert Barnes/Flickr

On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Cole, the court case challenging the constitutionality of HB2, the controversial 2013 Texas law that forced many Texas abortion clinics to close. If the law is upheld, it’s possible that all but 10 of the state’s clinics will close.

The case is the biggest abortion rights case to come before the Supreme Court since Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which established that states can limit access to abortion, but only if it does not place an “undue burden” on women.

Learn more about abortion here.

Essentially, the question in this case is what exactly constitutes an undue burden, and whether two of the regulations in HB2 — requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges and requiring clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center requirements — represent an undue burden.

Image from the Center for Reproductive Rights, The State of Texas Before, During and After HB2
Image from the Center for Reproductive Rights, The State of Texas Before, During and After HB2

The ruling will have a national impact, as other states have lawsuits pending on similar restrictions that have been passed.

Last week, 45 groups filed amicus briefs (briefs filed by groups not party to the case that have a strong interest in the outcome) urging the Supreme Court to once again affirm women’s constitutional right to safe and legal abortion services.

Many of the amicus briefs include personal stories from women who have had abortions, reports Vox.

For the first time, women are sharing their abortion stories with the Supreme Court using their real names rather than anonymously. And these stories could have a real impact on how the judges rule.

The case will be heard on March 2nd, with the decision likely announced in late June. The decision will shape the landscape of abortion access in the U.S. for decades to come.

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