A ruling in the most important abortion case in decades could come as early as Monday.
The case, Woman’s Whole Health v. Hellerstedt, centers around Texas’ House Bill 2, the state law that requires abortion clinics meet the same standards as hospital-like surgical centers.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide to either uphold or overturn HB2 before the session ends in late-June.
If the Supreme Court decides to uphold the law, only nine or ten abortion clinics would remain open in all of Texas.
“All Texas women deserve the compassion, dignity, and respect to make their own healthcare decisions and that simply won’t be possible,” said Lucy Stein, Advocacy Director at Progress Texas.
“You’ll have huge populations of women that have no options,” Stein said.
Supporters of HB2 want women to turn to other options outside of abortion, like adoption.
Director of the Texas Alliance for Life, Joe Pojman said he wants the number of clinics to shrink to a point that, “women just don’t consider seeking abortion.”
Pojman said, “We have never met a women who sought abortion because it was something that she was doing as her first preference.”
There are hundreds of pro-life pregnancy centers in Texas that offer adoption services.
The state’s Republican-controlled house passed the HB2 in 2013, under then Gov. Rick Perry and over the famous 11-hour filibuster by Wendy Davis.
Since then, more than half of the abortions clinics in the state closed under that law. There are currently 19 abortion providers in Texas, before HB2 there were 41.
Woman’s Whole Health, which operates three clinics and one surgical center in Texas, sued to block HB2.
“Abortion will remain readily available in Texas, just as it is now,” Pojman said, “that’s not our preference but that’s the reality.”
Stein, at Progress Texas, said it will be next to impossible for women to access abortions services if HB2 is upheld and fully implemented.
“The consequences would be devastating. It’s already pretty bad in Texas, we have only seven counties with abortion clinics,” Stein noted there are more than 250 counties in the state.
The nine abortion clinics that operate as Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASC) are located in five of the state’s largest cities.
“The goal of these laws is to chip away at woman’s constitutional right to access abortion care,” Stein said.
They make it as hard as possible for clinics to provide that care and for women to access that care.”
The law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Pojman said the regulations make abortions safer for women but opponents of the law said HB2 does just the opposite.
“They [regulations] endanger Texas women and Texas families, they put them in desperate situations,” Stein said.
Some studies indicate wait times are Texas abortion clinics have increased and more women are in search of alternatives to terminate a pregnancy, outside of the providers in Texas.
“Women will do what they need to do and it that is self-induced abortion, if that’s going across the border to Mexico, or going to a different state then that’s what they’ll do,” Stein said those are only options for women of means.
Women who cannot afford to travel or take time off work to get to abortion clinics and women who live in rural areas are disproportionately impacted by HB2, Stein said.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the law some of the 22 clinics that closed could re-open but it’s unclear how many and how long it would take.
The eight justices will determine if HB2 places an “undue burden” on a women’s right to choose. If the vote ends in a tie, the state’s law will be upheld.
Advocates on both sides of the bill said if the ruling does not fall in their favor, they will find another way to fight the Supreme Court’s decision on this abortion case.