The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider the constitutionality of a Texas abortion law that has already shut down more than half of the state’s abortion clinics, setting up what could be the biggest abortion decision in two decades on the eve of a presidential election.
The timing of the decision, likely next June, is expected to drive voter turnout, galvanizing those on both sides of the abortion debate to turn out for a presidential candidate who shares their views on one of the nation’s most polarizing social issues.
The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, is expected to turn on whether the Texas law — which imposes sweeping construction requirements on abortion clinics and requires providers to have hospital admitting privileges — is “an undue burden” on women’s access to the procedure.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinics, called the cast the “most important abortion rights case in nearly 25 years.”
“For more than four decades, the Supreme Court has agreed that the U.S. Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own decisions about her health and family,” she said after the court agreed to hear the suit. “Now the court must reject the schemes of politicians who believe the Constitution and the court’s precedents do not apply to them.”
After declining to take a major abortion case since 2007, the justices will revisit the court’s 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which determined that states could impose some restrictions on abortion as long as they did not pose an undue burden on women seeking the procedure. Undue burden was defined as “a state regulation that has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”