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Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt

(2016)

Supreme Court of the United States - 136 S. Ct. 2292

tl;dr:

Introduces balancing test of burden of law vs. benefit to women in upholding abortion laws.

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ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt

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Facts & HoldingWhole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt case brief facts & holding

Facts:State of Texas passed 2 provisions in the House Bill...

Holding:The rule from Casey requires that courts consider the burdens...

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Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt | Case Brief DeepDive
Majority opinion, author: Justice BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.
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The Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of two provisions of Texas' House Bill 2 related to abortion. The Court found that the surgical-center provision and admitting-privileges requirement were constitutional and reasonably related to the state's interest in protecting women's health and welfare. However, the Court held that the admitting-privileges requirement places a substantial burden on women's right to choose and does not serve any relevant credentialing function. The surgical-center requirement is not necessary and does not benefit patients. The challenges to the admitting-privileges requirement are not barred by res judicata, and facial relief can be awarded. The doctrine of claim preclusion does not apply to a post-enforcement as-applied challenge, which can create a new claim based on new material facts or changed circumstances.

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Opinion (Concurrence), author: Justice GINSBURG, concurring.
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The Texas law H.B. 2, which restricts abortion services, is unconstitutional as it does not genuinely protect women's health. The law would only make it harder for women to obtain abortions and could lead to unsafe practices. Laws that impede access to safe and legal abortions cannot survive judicial inspection under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pa. v. Casey. The court found that complications from abortions are rare and not dangerous, and other medical procedures with higher risks are not subject to the same requirements. The lower court erred in upholding the law.

Dissenting opinion, author: Justice THOMAS, dissenting.
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Justice Thomas dissented from the Court's decision to strike down two state statutory provisions that limit abortion, arguing that it creates an exception to the ordinary rules of res judicata, ignores evidence that the law imposes no unconstitutional burden, and disregards principles of the severability doctrine. He criticized the Court's approach in this case, which differs from the undue burden test established in previous cases, and the Court's habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights, particularly the putative right to abortion. The Court's approach to third-party standing in abortion cases allows abortion providers to sue without proving the actual burdens women face, which deprives the Court of the information needed to determine whether there is an undue burden on a woman's access to abortion. The majority's finding of an undue burden on women's access to abortion without identifying how many women are affected, their proximity to open clinics, or their preferences is problematic. The Court has created special rules that cede the enforcement of the constitutional right to abortion to others, despite recognizing that it involves intimate and personal choices central to personal dignity and autonomy. The majority has significantly altered the undue-burden test in three ways, which are not present in Casey or its successors and transform the undue-burden test into something similar to strict scrutiny. However, the author of this opinion argues that the majority's approach is not consistent with the approach taken in Casey.

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