Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt

This case concerned a Texas state law that imposed strict requirements on abortion providers in the state, signed into law in July 2013 by the then governor Rick Perry. One restriction required all abortion clinics in the state to meet the standards of what Americans call an ambulatory surgical centre — a medical facility that offers procedures that are too complicated for a doctor’s surgery, but do not require in-patient, overnight care. Another restriction required doctors performing abortions to have direct access to in- patient facilities at a nearby hospital.

In his majority decision in Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt (2016), Justice Breyer concluded that ‘neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access [to abortion services] that each imposes’. He continued: Each places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seek an abortion, each constitutes an undue burden on abortion access, and each violates the Constitution.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the decision as a victory for women, saying "By striking down politically motivated restrictions that made it nearly impossible for Texans to exercise their full reproductive rights, the Court upheld every woman’s right to safe, legal abortion, no matter where she lives."[ President Obama issued a statement applauding the Court's decision and reiterating his commitment to "women's health, including protecting a woman's access to safe, affordable health care and her right to determine her own future."[ Senator Bernie Sanders applauded the decision, calling it a "decisive victory for women across the country."

Senator Ted Cruz expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying "the Supreme Court sided with abortion extremists who care more about providing abortion-on-demand than they do protecting women’s health." He also vowed to fight for "unborn life."

A statement issued on behalf of the Catholic Church bishops in Texas said the decision "puts women at grave risk" because "Surgical abortion is an invasive procedure that poses numerous and serious medical complications. The state has a legitimate interest in ensuring the maximum level of safety for the woman subjected to the procedure and that viable emergency care is available if complications such as hemorrhage, infection, uterine perforation, blood clots, cervical tears, or allergic reactions occur. It is irresponsible for physicians to perform this procedure without being able to provide follow-up treatment for the associated complications