Monday morning, in a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country.
The case, Whole Women’s Health v . Hellerstedt, was a challenge to a Texas law that required abortion providers to meet certain standards that effectively forced most clinics in the state to shut down.
The Supreme Court determined that these restrictions placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to access abortion care. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) is the author of H.R. 448, the Women’s Health Protection Act and she joined 162 other members of the Senate and House in filing an amicus brief in the case, released the following statement:
“This is a victory for women and healthcare. In recent years, opponents of a woman’s right to choose have used flimsy and dishonest medical justifications to push their agenda. But the truth was that, by restricting or making it impossible for women to access safe and professional healthcare, these laws actually endangered the lives of women. I am thrilled that the Supreme Court ruled in support of evidence-based policy making that puts women’s health and choice above politics.
“Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court recognized a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and health in the historic Roe v. Wade decision. Today, that right has been strengthened for women across the country by recognizing that our rights do not depend on where you live. Striking down this Texas law and others like it is going to mean healthier women and families.”
Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt addresses the impact of Texas’s 2013 extreme anti-abortion law, known as HB2. This law imposes requirements designed to make it harder for women to exercise their constitutionally protected reproductive rights. The lead petitioner in the case, Whole Woman’s Health, is the sole remaining abortion clinic in Texas’s vast Rio Grande Valley, and would be forced to close if HB2 were allowed to take full effect. Texas is not alone. Fourteen states have laws in place that impose restrictions on doctors and clinics similar to those in Texas. More than half of states now have Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, also known as TRAP, laws and policies on the books that undermine women’s constitutionally protected rights under Roe under the guise of protecting women’s health.
The amicus brief signed by Rep. Chu highlights how state laws like HB2 in Texas have worked to erode women’s constitutionally protected health care rights, and urged the Supreme Court to uphold women’s rights as affirmed under Roe v. Wade and protected under Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The amicus brief can be read online here.
In addition, Rep. Chu, along with Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Lois Frankel (D-FL), introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are the Senate authors. The Women’s Health Protection Act would directly address restrictive state laws like HB2 by prohibiting laws that impose burdensome requirements on access to reproductive health services like requiring doctors to perform tests and procedures that doctors themselves have deemed unnecessary, or preventing doctors from prescribing and dispensing medication as is medically appropriate.