Both abortion supporters and opponents crowded outside of the U.S. Supreme Court building on Wednesday as oral arguments were heard in a controversial case.
The Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt case is over a Texas law that states abortion doctors must have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. Those who support the law believe that this is necessary to ensure the health and safety of the woman, however those who don’t approve believe it places an unnecessary burden on abortion doctors. This law would force clinics to adhere to the same health and safety standards as all hospitals.
The law was introduced in 2013 after the infamous murder trail of Kermit Gosnell in Philadelphia. Gosnell ran an abortion clinic with horrendous sanitary conditions that put his women patients in harm’s way.
Opponents of the law believe that it unnecessarily raises the costs of these services for women and thereby places an “undue burden” on the woman’s right to obtain an abortion. In fact, the abortion rate has dropped around 13% in Texas since the law was implemented.
The Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a friend-of-the-court brief to support to law on behalf of all health care professionals. The Alliance states that abortion is an outpatient procedure with many risks including infection and hemorrhaging. These risks make it necessary for a doctor to be able to quickly get to an emergency room with his patient.
Last June, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law after it was contested and determined that it did not place an undue burden on any parties involved.
With the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative voice within the Supreme Court, it will be anybody’s guess how this case will be decided, with many predicting a 4-4 split.