June 27, 2016 will stand as one of the most important SCOTUS decisions surrounding reproductive justice and women’s health since Roe v. Wade. I’ve previously blogged about Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers, or TRAP laws (See: http://endocrineethicsblog.org/why-biology-is-destiny-in-a-republican-world/). These laws essentially sentence vulnerable or impoverished women to parenting by removing access to pregnancy termination services. Typically, these laws are particularly punishing to women in poverty who were raped or abused, who are unable to travel far.
As of now, the Supreme Court has ruled that these TRAP laws are unconstitutional and pose an undue burden on women seeking safe and legal abortion, which remains their constitutional right.
A fuller exploration of these laws from the perspective of women’s healthcare providers can be seen in the documentary film, Trapped, which debuted earlier this month on PBS. Here is the link to the film. You can freely stream it until mid-July: http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/videos/trapped-full-film/
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in the Texas case of Whole Women’s Health v. Hellersted , the TRAP laws being challenged had nothing to do with making abortion safer, or making women’s healthcare safer, and everything to do with making abortion access more difficult, and hence, posed an undue burden on a constitutionally protected right for all women. (See: http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/06/opinion-analysis-abortion-rights-reemerge-strongly/)
For more analysis on this major decision, see the following:
It is virtually impossible to find any bioethicist who does not support a woman’s autonomy in the decision of pregnancy termination pre-viability. TRAP laws help to force postponement of termination procedures past viability. These laws also could force women’s health clinics offering termination services to women to close by imposing onerous requirements that generally have nothing to do with patient safety.
This SCOTUS decision validated constitutional protections for women’s reproductive rights and health. And the absence of a ninth Supreme Court Justice didn’t make a difference in this 5-3 decision.