On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision that affirms a person’s right to access abortion care. The 5-3 decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt struck down two provisions in a Texas law, one that required admitting privileges for doctors who perform abortions, and one that mandated all clinics offering abortion services meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center. While, at first, these may sound like benign safety measures, they have no sound medical basis and do nothing to make clinics or patients safer. In fact, as the Court ruled, they do the opposite. These measures only serve to shut down clinics, making it harder to access abortion care. As Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in the majority opinion:
“We conclude that neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes. Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access … and each violates the Federal Constitution.”
As an abortion fund, we hear from patients who face a litany of obstacles to care. By striking down this law, we move one step closer to giving everyone the access to health care that they deserve. As Justice Breyer also noted, abortion is safer than childbirth, safer than a colonoscopy, and something that we have a constitutional right to. We applaud the Court for upholding a person’s right to abortion, regardless of ZIP code.
Furthermore, we hope that this ruling is the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a long journey to repealing the nearly 300 abortion restrictions that have been enacted in the last few years. Indeed, some have already been challenged. Much work remains however, and this ruling sends a clear message that a person’s right to access abortion care cannot be met with an undue burden, and furthermore that any proposed restrictions must be based in evidence, not ideology.
We look forward to the day when we can go beyond challenging laws that burden reproductive choice to taking affirmative steps, such as repealing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts abortion funding. Until that time, we’ll be here, providing the funds that provide a much-needed bridge to access and doing all we can to make choice a reality.
photo credit: Lori Shaull via Flickr