Supreme Court

APHA filed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court stating that Texas abortion regulations do not promote health and safety — and that the court should review their merits. Photo by Mark Fischer/Flickr

Reproductive health is likely to be on trial again during the new U.S. Supreme Court term. This week, APHA filed a brief stating that Texas abortion regulations do not promote health and safety — and that the court should review a case that calls the limits into question.

Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole challenges Texas H.B. 2, a state law that imposes costly, medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion — one requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the location where the abortion is performed, another forces abortion facilities to meet standards designed for ambulatory surgical centers. The requirements will not make abortion safer but instead force many abortion providers to close and deprive women of safe, local reproductive care.

“It is critical to the public health interests of the United States that all women have meaningful access to reproductive health services, including abortion,” APHA wrote in the brief.  “H.B. 2 not only places a substantial — and unconstitutional — burden on the exercise of a fundamental right, but it also threatens to significantly harm the State’s public health and welfare.”

The brief also argues that the restrictions on abortion access are particularly meaningful for the state given the lack of support for family planning services in Texas, and finds that the law’s “Admitting Privileges and Ambulatory Surgery Center” requirements do not advance any public health interests.

“If H.B. 2 takes effect, abortion services in Texas will be geographically concentrated and drastically reduced, with fewer facilities and physicians available to serve the same population. In fact, the only abortion facilities that would be able to provide abortion care on a regular basis are those in or around Texas’s four largest metropolitan areas: Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin.

“The rest of the state will face greatly diminished access to care, women who previously had access to nearby abortion facilities will be forced to undertake arduous and expensive travel in order to obtain an abortion, and patients may be forced to wait longer for care or find there is no capacity for such care,” the brief adds.

Find out more about APHA’s ongoing reproductive and sexual health advocacy efforts.