Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt
What's at stake
- The right of states to protect women from dangerous substandard abortionists
- The continued erosion of Roe v. Wade’s regime of abortion on demand
In 2013, the State of Texas passed House Bill 2 in response to public revelations about the slipshod nature of the abortion industry, including the Kermit Gosnell “House of Horrors” in Philadelphia. HB2 mandates that abortion facilities adhere to ambulatory surgical center (ASC) 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—as it too often does. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the facial validity of the provisions based on Fifth Circuit precedent, but it enjoined the application of the admitting privileges provision as to one physician at a clinic in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, and it temporarily enjoined the ASC regulation only as to that one clinic. Texas now asks the Supreme Court to affirm the Fifth Circuit’s decision as a proper application of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey “undue burden” standard. HB2 has resulted in the closure of most of Texas’ abortion businesses except for about ten larger facilities in urban centers, but Texas maintains that women throughout the state are still within reasonable driving distances of abortion facilities, so that HB2 imposes no “undue burden” on abortion access.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom has submitted amicus briefs to both the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court, providing the courts with critical information about the medical benefits of HB2’s reasonable health and safety measures. Representing thousands of pro-life physicians and other medical professions in five pro-life medical associations—the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, Christian Medical and Dental Association, Catholic Medical Association, and Physicians for Life—ADF told the High Court that the Act’s surgical center and admitting privileges requirements reflect the professional standard of practice for outpatient gynecological and similar surgery. “[We]urge the Court to affirm that the quality of medical care provided to women seeking abortion should not be any lower than the quality of care provided to women undergoing similar invasive procedures,” ADF and its Allies stated. “The health and safety of all women should not be compromised.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is providing strong support to states and local agencies that are defending reasonable and constitutional health and safety measures to regulate abortion like House Bill 2. Our attorneys assist with strategy, research and briefing, and developing the critical medical evidence needed to win these cases.