The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday is scheduled to hear arguments in a case that could lead to changes in abortion laws across the country. Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt centers on whether a Texas law is unconstitutional because it requires doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and clinics must meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
The plaintiffs say the law would lead to the closures of 75% of the state's abortion clinics, leaving some women hundreds of miles from a provider. Texas counters that if the law takes effect, every metropolitan area with an abortion facility will still have one.
Stephanie Toti, senior counsel with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the case on behalf of Texas abortion clinics, said she will argue that the 14th Amendment requires meaningful scrutiny of laws to ensure they do not impose undue burdens on a woman's right to abortion. She will also argue the Texas law is not medically justified.
It's unclear whether the late Justice Antonin Scalia's absence will affect the case's outcome. If the court were to reach a 4-4 split, that would leave in place the lower court's ruling, which upheld the Texas law. The justices could decide to hold off on a decision until next term or re-argue the case next term, when a new ninth justice might be in place.