[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday granted certiorari [order, PDF] in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to decide whether a Texas law [HB 2] passed in 2013 imposes an undue burden on the availability of abortion services in the state. Specifically, the Court will review the constitutionality of two new restrictions [SCOTUSblog report] on abortion clinics under HB 2: 1) doctors who perform abortions must have the right to send patients to a full-scale hospital no further than thirty miles from the clinic; 2) each clinic must have the same facilities as a surgical center. It is estimated that 32 clinics would close [WP report] if the legislation is fully implemented, leaving Texas with 10 abortion clinics. The enactment of HB 2 [NYT report] by Texas Governor Rick Perry in July 2013 was met with strong opposition. In June 2015 the US Supreme Court granted a motion to stay [JURIST report] and temporarily blocked provisions of HB 2 from taking effect. It is likely the court will hear the case in February or March.
Abortion and reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder] have been at the forefront of legal debate over the past several months in the US. Last month the US House of Representatives approved the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 [JURIST report], a bill that would cut all federal funding to women’s healthcare provider Planned Parenthood. Also in October the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee lifted [JURIST report] a temporary restraining order that limited the state in enforcing new abortion laws regarding licensing standards for clinics. In July Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker enacted the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act [JURIST report], limiting the ability of a woman to seek an abortion more than 20 weeks into her pregnancy.