Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,
579 U.S. ___ (2016)

Annotate this Case
  • Syllabus  | 
  • Opinion (Stephen G. Breyer)  | 
  • Concurrence (Ruth Bader Ginsburg)  | 
  • Dissent (Clarence Thomas)  | 
  • Dissent (Samuel A. Alito, Jr.)

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

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No. 15–274

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WHOLE WOMAN’S HEALTH, et al., PETITIONERS v. JOHN HELLERSTEDT, COMMISSIONER, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF STATE HEALTH SERVICES, et al.

on writ of certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fifth circuit

[June 27, 2016]

Justice Ginsburg, concurring.

The Texas law called H. B. 2 inevitably will reduce the number of clinics and doctors allowed to provide abortion services. Texas argues that H. B. 2’s restrictions are constitutional because they protect the health of women who experience complications from abortions. In truth, “complications from an abortion are both rare and rarely dangerous.” Planned Parenthood of Wis., Inc. v. Schimel, 806 F. 3d 908, 912 (CA7 2015). See Brief for American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists et al. as Amici Curiae 6–10 (collecting studies and concluding “[a]bortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States”); Brief for Social Science Researchers as Amici Curiae 5–9 (compiling studies that show “[c]omplication rates from abortion are very low”). Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory-surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements. See ante, at 31; Planned Parenthood of Wis., 806 F. 3d, at 921–922. See also Brief for Social Science Researchers 9–11 (comparing statistics on risks for abortion with tonsillectomy, colonoscopy, and in-office dental surgery); Brief for American Civil Liberties Union et al. as Amici Curiae 7 (all District Courts to consider admitting-privileges requirements found abortion “is at least as safe as other medical procedures routinely performed in outpatient settings”). Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law “would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.” Planned Parenthood of Wis., 806 F. 3d, at 910. When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners, faute de mieux, at great risk to their health and safety. See Brief for Ten Pennsylvania Abortion Care Providers as Amici Curiae 17–22. So long as this Court adheres to Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973) , and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey, 505 U. S. 833 (1992) , Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws like H. B. 2 that “do little or nothing for health, but rather strew impediments to abortion,” Planned Parenthood of Wis., 806 F. 3d, at 921, cannot survive judicial inspection.

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