The Supreme Court Could Decide This Texas Abortion Case

“Just because the state says it’s about healthcare doesn’t mean the case gets a constitutional pass.”

By Rhonda FanningSeptember 28, 2015 9:13 am

A week from today, the U.S. Supreme Court will start a new session. But at a meeting today, they’ll be deciding which cases to hear.

For the first time since 2007 — the justices may decide a case involving abortion. Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole centers on a Texas law that places restrictions on Texas abortion providers and clinics. The result has led to the closure of many abortion clinics across the state.

Linda Hirshman, attorney and author of “Sisters In Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” says there is a similar case from Mississippi that has already been briefed for review that would indicate the justices are waiting for the Texas case as well.

The Texas law that’s being challenged says that abortion providers must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and that abortions be performed in facilities that meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

Hirshman says the court will decide whether this law imposes an “undue burden” on women.

“The standard that Justice O’Connor developed and ultimately became the rule in abortion cases is whether the law places an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to abortion,” she says.

The likely question to arise from this case is who should regulate medical care standards – Hirshman says the answer lies in history.

“If the standards for medical care infringe on a constitutionally protected right, then for more than 200 years, the Supreme Court of the United States or the federal courts have been institutions to decide those conflicts,” she says. “Just because the state says it’s about health care doesn’t mean it gets a constitutional pass.”