Supreme Court Review 2016/2017 TERM
MONDAY, JULY 24, 2017
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Issue:  Abortion

Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole

15-274

QUESTION(S) PRESENTED

In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, this Court reaffirmed that the decision to end a pregnancy prior to viability is a fundamental liberty protected by the Due Process Clause. 505 U.S. 833, 845-46 (1992). It held that a restriction on this liberty is impermissible if it amounts to an undue burden. Id. at 876-77. Under this standard, states may not enact “[u]nnecessary health regulations that have the purpose or effect of presenting a substantial obstacle to a woman seeking an abortion.” Id. at 878.

The questions presented are:

(a) When applying this standard, does a court err by refusing to consider whether and to what extent laws that restrict abortion for the stated purpose of promoting health actually serve the government’s interest in promoting health?

(b) Did the Fifth Circuit err in concluding that this standard permits Texas to enforce, in nearly all circumstances, laws that would cause a significant reduction in the availability of abortion services while failing to advance the State’s interest in promoting health—or any other valid interest?

DECISION

Decided June 27, 2016 HOLDING

Petitioners’ constitutional claims are not barred by res judicata. Both the admitting-privileges and the surgical-center requirements place a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion, constitute an undue burden on abortion access, and thus violate the Constitution.

Agree image Justice Sotomayor
Agree Sotomayor
Author image Justice Breyer
Author Breyer
Agree w/ Alito image Justice Thomas
Agree w/ Alito Thomas
Recused image Justice Scalia
Recused Scalia
Agree w/ Alito image Chief Justice Roberts
Agree w/ Alito Roberts
Agree image Justice Kennedy
Agree Kennedy
Agree Concur image Justice Ginsburg
Agree Concur Ginsburg
Dissent Author image Justice Alito
Dissent Author Alito
Agree image Justice Kagan
Agree Kagan

BREYER, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which KENNEDY, GINSBURG, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. GINSBURG, J., filed a concurring opinion. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined.

Text of Opinion
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ORAL ARGUMENT

Argued March 2, 2016

Transcript
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PROCEEDING BELOW

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Decided June 9, 2015
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SUPREME PODCAST COVERAGE

DATE TITLE CASE STAGE LISTEN NOW
2015-12-06 Introduction to 2015-16 Term - Five Case You Should Know Certiorari Granted go to coverage
2016-03-09 What Constitutes an Undue Burden on Abortion? Oral Argument go to coverage
2016-06-29 The Abortion Decision Opinion go to coverage