Women got a long-awaited victory today in the Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. They struck down as unconstitutional two abortion restrictions aimed at curtailing women’s access to abortion. They specifically held that an admitting privileges requirement for abortion providers and a burdensome surgical center facility requirement constitute undue burdens on a woman’s right to choose abortion.
In short, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t believe the façade that these restrictions had anything to do with improving or protecting women’s health. In fact, these restrictions and the countless others that we’ve seen across the country are about shaming and demeaning women and taking away their most fundamental rights. The real threat to women’s health isn’t a procedure with a major complication rate of less than one-quarter of 1%, it’s the health center closures that result from restrictive and unnecessary reproductive health laws.
Since the beginning of the Tea Party takeover in 2010, there has also been a takeover of women, including their lives, bodies, and rights. Across the United States, legislatures have imposed approximately 300 abortion restrictions since 2011. The same is true here in Wisconsin, where the GOP dominated legislature and governor have passed abortion bans, forced vaginal ultrasounds laws, and harmful admitting privilege requirements.
We’ve seen the disastrous effects of these laws. In Texas, Wisconsin and across the country, life-saving health centers have been forced to close with nothing taking their place. There is no question that women’s health is suffering, sometimes in a very real life or death manner. As Justice Ginsburg points out: “When a State severely limits access to safe and legal procedures, women in desperate circumstances may resort to unlicensed rogue practitioners…at great risk to their health and safety.”
There is no doubt in my mind that legislative Republicans and Governor Walker will double-down and attempt to pass even more restrictive, and likely patently unconstitutional, laws in the sessions to come. There is no doubt in my mind that even though the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Wisconsin’s admitting privileges appeal, our Attorney General will continue wasting taxpayer money litigating future unconstitutional burdens on women’s reproductive rights.
This ruling is a turning point in the fight to restore reproductive rights for women that have been so seriously curtailed by state legislatures throughout the country. It is fitting that the court released this decision just days before our country celebrates individual rights and liberties on Independence Day. There is nothing that epitomizes individual rights and liberties more than affirming that women have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their health, family, career, and future without interference from politicians.
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