June 24, 2016


"Whole Women's Health: Abortion stigma is sex discrimination," Danielle Lang, American Constitution Society blog: The Supreme Court should not only rule that provisions in Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) are unconstitutional because they "present substantial practical obstacles to access to abortion," but also because HB 2 and similar restrictions in other states "enforce an outdated vision of women's autonomy and role in society," Lang writes. According to Lang, such antiabortion-rights laws have "real consequences on women's health, women's identity and our society's ability to truly reshape itself to deliver on the promise of women's equality." Noting that the medical justification for the contested Texas provisions "is a complete farce," Lang writes, "Ultimately, the message sent by these laws -- which purport to protect women's health but do nothing to further medical safety -- is that women need to be saved from their own decisions to seek abortions." Citing Supreme Court precedent that prohibits states from "legislat[ing] to promote any particular view of women's proper role in society" or "protect[ing] women from choices outside of that role," Lang writes that Texas "cannot enforce laws, in the name of women's health, that do not further medical safety but rather seek to 'protect' women from their own self-determination and impose shame and stigma on women." She concludes, "Recognition of this basic point would be entirely consistent with the Court's sex discrimination precedent and would mark a welcome change in an abortion jurisprudence that seems ever less tethered to the women's rights it claims to protect" (Lang, American Constitution Society blog, 6/23).


"Will the court restrict abortion to the wealthy?" Caroline Fredrickson, The American Prospect: "As the Supreme Court prepares to decide on the blockbuster abortion case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, it's worth remembering that one of the ruling's main implications will be economic," Fredrickson writes, explaining that "women's control of their own fertility is a key driver of our nation's economic success." According to Fredrickson, abortion-rights opponents "have found a clever way ... to undermine legal access to reproductive health care" by passing "restrictions that raise the cost of abortion and contraception," thereby "target[ing] low-income women [and] eroding the gains of past decades." For example, Fredrickson points out how low-income women in Texas are disproportionately affected by clinic closures under HB 2 because they cannot afford the travel and lodging costs required to access abortion care elsewhere. Fredrickson concludes that "if the Supreme Court upholds Texas-style restrictions in Hellerstedt, the effect will be to make abortion completely inaccessible to far too many women" for whom the cost of access care will be prohibitive (Fredrickson, The American Prospect, 6/21).


"In June, dig deeper into abortion access for low-income women," Amie Newman, Our Bodies Ourselves' "Our Bodies, Our Blog": "This month, two important discussions about abortion access and the impact of specific anti-choice regulations called TRAP [laws] (targeted regulation of abortion providers) are happening in two very different spaces: one on PBS and the other in the Supreme Court," Newman writes. She explains that PBS is airing a documentary called "Trapped," which "looks at how abortion clinics are (or aren't) surviving as they battle the onslaught of harmful state TRAP laws." Meanwhile, according to Newman, "It's one of these laws -- HB2 in Texas -- that the Supreme Court is now tasked with either upholding or overturning in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt." She writes, "On the surface, the Supreme Court case and the film examine how these anti-choice regulations affect clinic closures ... Dig a little deeper, though, and you unearth the ways in which these laws sharply impact women at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder." Newman writes, "The more low-income women are stripped of their access to this critical reproductive health care, the more difficult it is for them to move up the income ladder and escape poverty." Newman concludes by calling for "abortion access laws that respect and value women as agents of their own lives, ... that care for vulnerable women's bodies" and "that respect all women's choices as they make them, even if they are different than what we would choose for ourselves" (Newman, "Our Bodies, Our Blog," Our Bodies Ourselves, 6/22).

What others are saying about access to care:

~ "A bishop in the exam room: When faith dictates health care instead of science," Erica Hellerstein/Josh Israel, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."