AG Healey Urges U.S. Supreme Court to Strike Down Limits on Access to Abortion Services
Massachusetts Joins Filing of Multistate Amicus Brief
BOSTON – Arguing that a decision by a lower court unconstitutionally limits access to abortion services for women, Attorney General Maura Healey joined a multistate amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the petitioners in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole.
The brief , prepared by the New York Attorney General’s Office with assistance from Attorney General Healey’s Office, requests that the U.S. Supreme Court reverse a federal appellate court decision upholding two provisions of Texas law that restrict access to abortion services in that state.
“We are committed to fighting for the rights of all women to have access to safe reproductive healthcare,” said AG Healey. “These Texas laws unfairly restrict the choices that women have a constitutional right to make on their own and I urge the Supreme Court to strike them down.”
The provisions of the Texas laws require that all abortion clinics comply with standards applicable to ambulatory surgical centers and that any physician performing an abortion hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is performed.
The provisions were purportedly enacted to promote women’s health, but the evidence in the Whole Woman's Health v. Cole case established that they would not serve that purpose and could even be detrimental to the health of women seeking pre-viability abortions. According to the petitioner’s brief, these provisions would cause the closure of 75 percent of abortion facilities in Texas and deter new ones from opening. More than half of these facilities in that state are currently closed due to the admitting privileges requirement largely being in effect.
Similar laws have proliferated across the nation in recent years, resulting in the closure of many abortion facilities. The Supreme Court will consider in this case whether it is constitutional for a state to so severely burden women’s reproductive rights.
In 2014, a federal district court in Texas prohibited the enforcement of the provisions, but in 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed that decision and upheld them. The Supreme Court will now decide whether the Constitution allows Texas and other states around the nation to adopt such burdensome restrictions. The Court will hear arguments in the case on March 2, 2016, and is likely to issue a decision by June 30.
This brief was joined by a total of 15 jurisdictions including Massachusetts, New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.