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Will Whole Woman's Health be overturned in 2020?

Whole Woman's Health v. Hellersted, is a United States Supreme Court case decided on June 27, 2016. The Court ruled 5–3 that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery of abortion services that create an undue burden for women seeking an abortion. The landmark case ensures states must show proof of an actual health benefit when enacting or passing abortion laws.

In December, Texas Attor­ney General Ken Paxton called on the U.S. Supreme Court to dismiss the legal challenge to a Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of the clinic, and thereby essentially toss out the Whole Woman's Health ruling.

According Vox's Dylan Matthews:

This term, the Supreme Court will hear and rule in the case of June Medical Services LLC v. Gee, a challenge to a Louisiana law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

As my colleagues Anna North and Ian Millhiser explain, abortion rights advocates consider this restriction both medically unnecessary (the rate of complications for first-trimester abortions is very low, and you don’t need admitting privileges to send people with complications to a nearby hospital) and designed to shut down abortion clinics.

But more importantly, the Supreme Court already struck down a nearly identical Texas law in 2016’s Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The fact that it’s hearing this case so soon after setting a precedent that admitting privileges laws are unconstitutional suggests strongly that the Court — which has since added Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh and lost abortion rights supporter Anthony Kennedy — is ready to overrule Whole Women’s Health and allow more state restrictions on abortion.

I think there’s a real, maybe 20-30 percent chance that the anti-abortion rights majority on the court overrules Roe v. Wade outright, pulling off the Band-aid and eliminating the constitutional right to abortion in one fell swoop, as many GOP politicians have urged them to do with this case. But whether or not Roe falls, I think it’s a near-certainty that Whole Women’s Health will fall.

Will Whole Woman's Health be overturned in 2020?

This question resolves positively if Vox, the NYT, WaPo, Reuters, Politico, or the Associated Press reports that the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellersted is effectively overturned before the end of 2020.


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