Pondering what the Supreme Court may do in “Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt”

By Dave Andrusko

SupremeCourt30There is likely only two weeks left in the current term of the Supreme Court. So, albeit to a lesser extent, this Monday, as in previous Mondays, there are stories speculating about what the justices will do about the outstanding “controversial cases.”

For pro-lifers, ours is HB 2, the 2013 Texas pro-life law that the High Court could render a verdict on as soon as this week.

As our readers are well aware, the two provisions under challenge in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt require abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinics (that is in effect) and mandate that abortion clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers (not yet in effect).

Here are a few thoughts from various outlets.

Richard Wolf, USA Today writes: “A substantive ruling could represent the most significant abortion decision by the court since 1992.”

This is an allusion to several considerations, including that with the death of Antonin Scalia, there are eight justices on the court.

The decision could limit its effect to Texas by affirming the decision of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding HB 2 but without setting a national precedent. Or the justices could essentially return the case for more proceedings, as Justice Anthony Kennedy hinted at during the oral arguments March 2.

Reuters raised the possibility of a ruling against HB 2 or rendering a ‘split decision.’  Lawrence Hurley writes

Another possibility is that the justices strike down the law, or invalidate one of the two provisions at issue while keeping the other. It may be more likely that the admitting-privileges provision, already in effect, would survive, while the hospital-grade facilities requirements, which the justices themselves temporarily blocked, would not.

Last Friday, the Los Angeles Times spent most of its time painting a grim picture of fewer abortion clinics and longer waits. Not a word about something NRLC’s Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon has explored in great depth: that almost none of these closures can be definitely said to be related to the parts of the law that have been challenged in Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt and that the longer waits simply assume that other abortion clinics (particularly Planned Parenthood’s “mega-clinics) wouldn’t pick up the slack.

More tomorrow.