Access to safe, legal abortion is now before the Supreme Court: On Nov. 13 the Court agreed to rule on HB2 — the Texas abortion law that could shut down all but 10 abortion providers in the state.
If the Court upholds these dangerous restrictions, access to safe and legal abortion may be threatened throughout the country.
The case is Whole Woman’s Health, et al. v. Cole, et al., and the plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights. It involves a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding restrictions that threaten to further devastate access to safe, legal abortion in Texas. With that decision, the appeals court is saying that forcing Texas women to travel out of state or hundreds of miles is not an undue burden. If this is not an undue burden, then it is hard to imagine what is.
If the Supreme Court does not reverse this lower court’s ruling, it would leave the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in Texas with only 10 health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in the entire state — down from approximately 40 health centers before passage of this dangerous law.
The Facts on Abortion Access in Texas
Texas — where some women are already traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines, and waiting weeks to get an abortion (if they can at all) — paints a devastating picture of what’s at stake for women across the country.
Here’s the background to the Texas abortion restrictions: The politicians behind them ignored an epic filibuster from Wendy Davis in 2013 in order to pass them. They closed their hearts to numerous women who testified about the damage the restrictions would do. They shut out thousands of activists who poured into the capitol in Austin to make sure the people's voices were heard. In the end, they were willing to twist the rules to jam the restrictions through.
Those restrictions have shut down health centers across the state, and more Texas women are struggling to access safe, legal abortion: Now, some women are waiting as long as 20 days to access abortion in the state.
Turning Back the Clock on Reproductive Rights
If the Supreme Court does not reverse the appellate ruling, the situation in Texas could get even worse for women. Researchers from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) estimate that the number of women seeking abortions at the remaining 10 health centers would increase dramatically beyond existing capacity, forcing longer delays that would nearly double the percentage of abortions in the second trimester. While abortion is an extremely safe procedure, it’s safest the earliest it’s provided.
If the Supreme Court allows Texas’ abortion restrictions to stand, it would essentially take many women back to a time before abortion was legal. The politicians behind these types of restrictions are likely to use every inch of that victory to make getting an abortion one of the hardest things a woman can do. In fact, its impact will be immediate, and likely far-reaching. Lawmakers throughout the country could believe they have the Supreme Court's blessing to pass even more dangerous laws, shutting down health centers and putting new restrictions on reproductive rights.
Where America Stands on Access to Safe, Legal Abortion
For more than 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion — and Americans support that right. Texas’ abortion restrictions are a clear attempt to end women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and it’s not what the public wants:
When the Texas abortion restrictions passed, they sparked historic protests in Texas and across the country.
Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortion.
A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll found that 67% of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion and agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
A VOX/PerryUndem poll found that more Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life.