Whole Woman’s Health’s Unexpected Win for Science

Publication Date: 
October 2016
Political Research Associates, The Public Eye

In June 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas anti-abortion TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) law that threatened to shutter all but a handful of the state’s clinics by requiring them to meet costly ambulatory surgical center standards and for their doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals.

The law, known as Texas Senate Bill 5, was an example of how the anti-abortion movement has used false scientific claims to incrementally cut off abortion rights. Americans United for Life (AUL), a “bill mill” that provides anti-abortion model legislation for conservative lawmakers,1) recommends these restrictions under the guise of its “Women’s Protection Project,” which deploys false claims about women’s health to enact medically unnecessary regulatory obstacles that force many clinics to close.2) (Meeting detailed ambulatory surgical standards, for instance, would require prohibitively expensive renovations for most reproductive health clinics without improving quality of care. And requiring hospital admitting privileges presents a particularly absurd catch-22, since some hospitals only grant privileges to doctors regularly needing to hospitalize patients—a rarity for abortion providers.3) ) This has been an effective tactic; by the time of the Whole Woman’s Health ruling, at least 18 clinics in Texas had closed due to the law’s requirements.4

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