Today, the Supreme Court of the Unites States will hear oral argument in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt. The Supreme Court will consider whether Texas' H.B. 2 law, a law passed by the Texas legislature in 2013, adopting new regulations restricting access to abortion clinics with the goal of increasing the health and safety of woman.
The regulations at issue require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to work in abortion clinics that meet the standards of outpatient surgical centers.
Prior to 2013, Texas doctors needed to obtain transfer agreements with hospitals if a medical emergency arose, and clinics that performed abortions after the 16th week of pregnancies had to meet the standards of a surgical center.
The new law extends both regulations which will not require that a woman seeking early abortion medication must go to a surgical center to receive that medication. The new law also imposes mandatory waiting periods after the initial appointment at the surgical center.
Leading medical experts, including the American Medical Assn., the America College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians, have all strongly urged the court to reject the Texas regulations as unneeded and potentially harmful.
This questions before the Supreme Court may very well have a different outcome than it would have prior to Justice Antonin Scalia's death last month. Scalia vehemently criticized the Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a right to abortion.
Pennsylvania, like Texas has several restrictions on abortions, including:
- Required counseling designed to discourage a woman from receiving an abortion during a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.
- State health plans under the Affordable Health Care Act only cover abortions when a woman's life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest.
- Insurance policies for public employees only cover abortions when a woman's life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest.
- A parent of a minor (under the age of 18) must consent to an abortion procedure for their minor child.
The Supreme Court's decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt will not only impact the state of Texas, but will set precedent for any future laws proposed in other states that may further limit access to abortions.