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Justice for Abortion Access from the Supreme Court Today

June 27, 2016


This morning the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a historic decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court case challenging two provisions in House Bill 2, the abortion clinic shutdown law passed following the filibuster three years ago this week.

During oral arguments this past March, attorneys representing Whole Woman’s Health argued that two of the key provisions in this bill created an “undue burden” for people in Texas.

In a 5-3 decision, the Court affirmed what we already know – that the challenged provisions of House Bill 2 are unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. This sets a precedent across the country stating clearly that admitting privileges and the surgical center standards requirement place an undue burden on people seeking abortion care.

This is a huge win for people in Texas, as it will allow clinics to reopen where they can, and protects against the further erosion of abortion care in Texas under this restrictive law.

Lilith Fund’s callers make up the communities that are most impacted by clinic shutdown laws like House Bill 2. They are primarily low-income women of color who are working to care for their families and make ends meet. Abortion coverage is completely out of reach for them, whether it’s because they are underinsured or because abortion coverage under Medicaid is banned by the federal Hyde Amendment or because they simply can’t afford the extreme out-of-pocket expenses needed to navigate the barriers created by House Bill 2. For the last few years, this has pushed our callers into a dire health care gap that is both unacceptable and ethically unjust. But we have not stood idly by. At Lilith Fund, we believe all people should have the power, resources, and community support they need to make their reproductive decisions a reality. 

When House Bill 2 first came into effect back in 2013, we saw immediate, drastic consequences  among the people we serve. Our clients had to scramble to find clinics that could meet the stringent requirements of this law; many faced confusion and frustration after learning they would now have to travel hundreds of miles, take multiple days off work, and come up with even more funding for the logistical barriers they needed to overcome. Most recently, we have seen wait times become so long that many of our clients are seeking care in neighboring states, more so than ever before in our 15-year history as a fund. These obstacles faced by our clients ARE undue burdens. 

We are extremely pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized these undue burdens and has ruled to reaffirm constitutional reproductive rights for the people of Texas. This is a win for our clients and all people in Texas who need access to safe and legal abortion. We will always have work to do to make abortion truly accessible and affordable in this state, but this is a huge step towards dismantling hundreds of harmful and medically unnecessary laws across the country.

By keeping clinic doors open, and paving the way for more clinics to open or reopen, we are creating a more just Texas, where people can truly have the ability to make reproductive decisions that are best for themselves and their families.