Washington – On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will take up its first major abortion case in years as Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt will go before the Court. The case asks for abortion clinics to implement safety standards that match up with the regulations of other surgical clinics while pivotal Justice Anthony Kennedy voices concerns about the restrictive Texas law.
The case which involves a Texas law known as House Bill 2, confronts Whole Woman’s Health, that operates abortion-providing clinics in Fort Worth, San Antonio and McAllen, a city about 150 miles south of Corpus Christi and Dr. John Hellerstedt, a commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
House Bill 2 implements safety standards for abortion clinics which include requirements to uphold the quality of care, cleanliness and safety, proper staffing and safe laboratory services. It also requires abortion clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden said Abortionists should not be given a free pass to elude medical requirements that everyone else is required to follow.
“The 5th Circuit was on firm legal ground in its decision, and we have asked the Supreme Court to affirm it. The law’s requirements are common-sense protections that ensure the maximum amount of safety for women,” Aden added.
But some oppose to the law saying it’s a way to restrict access to abortions. They believe the extra expense to implement the safety standards will cause abortion clinics to close.
Divided opinions about House Bill 2
Texas says House Bill 2 is a way to prevent what happened at the clinic of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia. Gosnell was convicted of three counts of murder for killing three infants born alive by cutting their spinal cords with scissors. He was also found guilty on 21 felony counts of performing illegal abortions and 211 counts of violating the 24-hour informed consent law.
On the other hand, the court’s four liberal justices indicated they believed the law interferes with a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy established in a 1973 ruling.
During the 85-minute oral argument, different conservative justices including Kennedy expressed doubt about claims by abortion providers who asserted that the 2013 law forced numerous clinics to shut down.
Kennedy suggested during the hearing to send the case back to a lower court to get further evidence on the law’s impact. They said if there is evidence proving the existing Texas clinics that meet the state’s regulations have increased capacity to perform abortions, it would show the law has provided a beneficial effect.