By Elizabeth Borngraber
On March 2, the biggest abortion rights case since Planned Parenthood v. Casey will hit the Supreme Court. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will determine if Texas is allowed to enforce a law passed in 2013 that requires all abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals and that abortion clinics meet the building requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.
These so-called TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws disguise anti-choice legislation by claiming that they safeguard the health of women. Arguments made by supporters claim say that House Bill 2 (HB2) protects women, despite various statements from organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Medical Association that these requirements are medically unnecessary and impose an undue burden on women seeking abortion care. Women in southern states such as Texas already face many barriers to care due to religious opposition and extreme conservatism. Laws like HB2 would close 75% of Texas abortion clinics, making having an abortion in Texas a near impossibility. If enforced, this law could give Texas the power to eliminate abortion providers entirely, setting a precedent for similar laws in other states. Right now in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi, TRAP laws are currently threatening to close abortion clinics. If these laws are allowed to pass, only one abortion clinic could remain in these states as a result.
In light of the importance of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, over 1,000 people, myself included, will be at the Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 2 to rally in support of abortion access. The Center for Reproductive Rights has urged the court to repeal the law on the basis of the “undue burden” provision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The decision the Supreme Court makes about HB2 will have resounding effects on abortion access in Texas and states throughout the country. As we fight for reproductive justice, we must stand to support equal access to abortion care for all Americans. In the words of John Oliver, “Abortion cannot just be theoretically legal. It has to be literally accessible.” For more information about the rally and how you can get involved visit http://www.reproductiverights.org/rally.
Elizabeth Borngraber is a graduate student in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work in New York state whose studies and interests are focused around women’s health and rights, healthcare access, and policy.