The FAQs: Supreme Court Rules on Texas Abortion Case

What just happened?

In one of the most significant rulings on abortion in decades, the Supreme Court ruled on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in a 5-3 decision to overturn state laws designed to regulate abortion clinics in a way that would protect women’s health.

What was the case about?

After the Kermit Gosnell scandal created an awareness of the unsafe, unsanitary, and largely unregulated conditions in abortion clinics in America, the State of Texas passed House Bill 2. According to Alliance Defending Freedom, HB2—which became law in 2013—mandates that abortion facilities adhere to ambulatory surgical center requirements common to most outpatient facilities, and it also requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility to be able to handle emergencies when something goes wrong.

Whole Woman's Health, an abortion provider in Texas, challenged the law in federal court, claiming it was expensive, not medically necessary, and interfered with women's health care.

What was the lower court ruling?

In June 2015, the Fifth Circuit Court in New Orleans disagreed with the claims of Whole Woman's Health and largely upheld the contested provisions of the Texas law. The Fifth Circuit ruled that, with minor exceptions, the law did not place an undue burden on the right to an abortion.

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