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03.02.16 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a historic case challenging Texas’ clinic shutdown law and the first major abortion case to be heard by the Court in more than two decades. Thousands gathered in front of the Supreme Court to support women’s access to safe and legal abortion services.
Following oral arguments, leadership from Whole Woman’s Health, the lead plaintiff in the case, and the Center for Reproductive Rights addressed the case and what is at stake for women in Texas and across the nation:
“I remain optimistic that the Court is going to see these requirements for what they are, a sham designed to limit women’s abortion access. These laws are not designed to promote women’s health, and they will not promote women’s health.” - Stephanie Toti, senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, and lead litigator inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
“One thing was clear from the questions the justices asked today: that the facts are on the side of Whole Woman’s Health and the women of Texas. There is no justification for this law, even the American Medical Association and other leading medical providers have said that you cannot justify this for women’s health.” -Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, isn’t about one clinic or even one state; it is about every single one of us. We all should expect equality, dignity, and justice in making our own health decisions. At Whole Woman’s Health we know we’re on the right side of history—and we’re hopeful that the Court will be as well.” - Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and lead plaintiff in the case.
Texas’ clinic shutdown law, known as HB2, has already shuttered half of the more than 40 abortion clinics in Texas, and is poised to leave the nation’s second-largest state with 10 or fewer clinics to serve 5.4 million women of reproductive age. In fact, research already shows a dangerous increase in wait times for the 19 clinics that are currently open, pushing many abortions into the second trimester. Closing clinics forces women to travel long distances and bear greater costs to access care, pushing access entirely out of reach for many and forcing some women to take matters into their own hands.
The law has been denounced by the nation’s medical, nursing and public health authorities, as well as the federal government, constitutional scholars, lawmakers, faith leaders, and hundreds of individual women who have come forward to share their own stories about the importance of maintaining access to abortion care.
Media highlights and photos from today can be found below:
“The case is one of the most consequential on the docket this term, and that was reflected by a huge, boisterous crowd that gathered on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court before the arguments started, filling the air with the voices of activists who were braving a stiff wind and biting cold.” – New York Times
“Many hundreds of abortion rights proponents and a much smaller number of opponents demonstrated outside the court before, during and after the oral argument.” – USA Today
“The court should see this Texas law and others like it for what they are — onerous restrictions masquerading as safeguards that are actually intended to curtail access to abortion. They don't pass constitutional muster. If the court makes that clear enough, that ruling will help dismantle the array of laws in other states.” – Los Angeles Times Editorial Board
“Each of the liberal justices also suggested that Texas had singled out abortion despite the fact that it has lower complication rates than other outpatient procedures. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, for example, asked if getting a dilation and curettage in a doctor’s office is any riskier than getting an abortion; Toti called the procedures ‘virtually identical.’” – MSNBC