The SCOTUS decision in Whole Women’s Health Clinic v. Hellerstedt is an important step forward for abortion rights in the U.S. This decision has been applauded by many feminist groups, including AAUW.
AAUW has a long history of supporting reproductive choice. Male-dominated state legislators — women make up only 24.4% of them, nationwide — have implemented dozens of TRAP laws over the past decade, and the SCOTUS decision will have a dampening effect of this process. Currently, “24 states have laws or policies that regulate abortion providers and go beyond what is necessary to ensure patients’ safety; all apply to clinics that perform surgical abortion,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.
In addition, Scotusblog wrote: “Putting the right to abortion back on the same constitutional footing the Supreme Court laid down nearly a quarter-century ago, a divided Supreme Court on Monday swept away new forms of state restrictions on the way clinics can function. Together with recent refusals by the Court to allow states to narrow the scope of the abortion right itself, the new ruling in Whole Woman’s Health Clinic v. Hellerstedt thwarted a wave of new laws against women’s choice to end pregnancy.”
The SCOTUS vote was five to three, with Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Justice Steven G. Breyer and Anthony Kennedy emerging as the heroines/heroes of the decision.
This fight is not over, since the Court still has a vacancy. The November 2016 vote will be vital for ensuring that a new Court Justice supports women’s reproductive justice. State legislatures continue to issue challenges to reproductive rights, and women need to encourage women and men who support equity for women and girls to run for office and support those candidates with their votes.