SCOTUS Warned of Texas Abortion Case’s Impact

     (CN) – If the Supreme Court upholds a Texas abortion law, millions of women across the United States could be denied “timely access to vital reproductive healthcare,” eight cities from coast-to-coast warned.
     “This is neither hyperbole nor speculation,” New York City’s chief lawyer Zachary Carter wrote in a 32-page friend-of-the-court brief.
     Predominantly blue-state cities such as Boston, Mass., Baltimore, Md., Burlington, Vt., Madison, Wis. and San Francisco, Calif., joined in the dire prediction by pointing to their “firsthand experience with the desperate measures that women will take to exercise reproductive autonomy.”
     Bringing support from a swing and red state, Ohio’s sixth largest city, Dayton, and Texas’s Travis County, home to Austin, also signed the brief.
     “Before the constitutional right to abortion was established, New York City was one of the few places where women could obtain safe and legal abortions,” the brief notes. “Hundreds of thousands of women from all over the country, including over 3,400 from Texas, traveled to New York City seeking access to abortion services. The resulting delays in accessing services endangered women’s health, and the vast influx of women from all over the country strained the City’s ability to meet all the healthcare needs of residents as well as non-resident women seeking abortion services.”
     The Supreme Court could return the United States to those days depending on how the justices rule in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Kirk Cole, M.S., the cities contend.
     In that case, a women’s health organization operating seven clinics nationwide led the charge against House Bill 2, a Texas law mandating that all abortion clinics in the state meet the same building code, equipment and standards of staff training as hospital-style surgery centers.
     The statute also required doctors performing the procedures to have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles.
     In June, the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit upheld the law, overturning a federal judge’s finding that it was medically unjustifiable.
     While Texas justified the law on public health grounds, both the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told the Supreme Court in October that these restrictions were unnecessary.
     The director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project called the medical considerations a pretext for the state’s anti-abortion goals.
     “When the leading medical groups like the AMA oppose these laws, you have to ask yourself what they are really about,” Jennifer Dalven said in a statement. “They’re about shutting down clinics and attempting to prevent a woman who has decided to have an abortion from getting one.”
     Echoing this sentiment, several U.S. senators and non-profit groups took to Twitter to spread the viral hashtag #StopTheSham.
     In announcing the amicus brief, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio invoked the return of the pre-Roe v. Wade era.
     “No woman should have to leave her home and travel hundreds of miles in pursuit of the basic right to reproductive freedom,” he said in a statement.
     New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman led 13 other states and the District of Columbia in separate friend-of-the-court brief focusing more on the legal ramifications of the law rather than its potential impact.
     For the most part, the states argue that the Texas law places an unconstitutional “undue burden” on abortion access, in violation of the Constitution.
     “The undue-burden standard must allow courts to identify pretextual or misguided health justifications for regulations that would unnecessarily burden a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy,” the brief states.
     California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia and Washington also advocated for the “fundamental considerations of federalism” to override the Texas legislature.
     Supreme Court arguments on the case are scheduled to be held on March 2.

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