On March 2, 2016, SCOTUS heard oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the case challenging provisions of a Texas Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) law that has decimated abortion access in the state. The Court’s decision would have far reaching implications beyond Texas, as similar laws have been enacted in four other states thus far, including Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, and Wisconsin.
SIECUS joined the National Center for Lesbian Rights and 12 other coalition partners in filing an amicus brief in the case, asking the Court to strike down the restrictions. As the Court heard and challenged arguments related to the question of “undue burden” on a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, over three thousand advocates rallied on the steps outside in support of protecting access to safe, legal abortion.
SIECUS and partner advocates were once again on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday, March 23rd, as another sexual health access and rights case, Zubik v. Burwell, was heard before the Court. The case is a consolidation of seven cases of religiously affiliated nonprofits challenging the accommodation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive coverage requirement. If the plaintiffs prevail, a woman’s boss could have considerable power over employee’s sexual health choices.
An amicus brief led by the National Women’s Law Center and supported by 68 other organizations, including SIEUS, was filed demonstrating the importance of the contraceptive coverage benefit protecting and promoting women’s health, improving women’s social and economic circumstances, and ending gender discrimination.
The decisions in both cases would normally be expected in June, toward the end of the Court’s current term. Given the vacancy due to the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the potential for either or both cases to result in a 4-4 tie, decisions could come earlier.