Game Changer: The best analysis of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates 2014 a “game changer,” said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that “leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down,” long-time […]

Game Changer: The best analysis of the Supreme Court’s abortion decision

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates 2014 a “game changer,” said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that “leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down,” long-time court-watcher Ian Millhiser wrote.

Abortion foes had hoped the court would use the Texas abortion case as an opportunity to gut not just Roe v. Wade, but also 1992’s seminal Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that abortion laws creating an “undue burden” on women were unconstitutional. Instead, the court clarified and strengthened Casey while striking down two of Texas law H.B. 2’s key provisions 2014 strict building rules for abortion clinics and a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This could invalidate anti-abortion laws in another 25 states.

The ruling is expected to have a monumental ripple effect, invalidating strict clinic laws in about half the states. Read the story.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

Here’s some of the best analysis so far about the Whole Women’s Health ruling, what it portends for reproductive rights in the U.S., and the future direction of the Supreme Court. It should be noted: In the immediate aftermath of the ruling, much of the insta-commentary came from the left. Abortion opponents harshly criticized the decision but didn’t offer much in the way of analysis or predictions about their new way forward. As that changes, we’ll update this post.

Texas lawmakers overreached 2014 and the result is likely to be a disaster for the anti-abortion movement. So says Millhiser at the liberal site ThinkProgress. H.B. 2 was supposed to provide abortion foes “with a vehicle to drain what life remains in Roe v. Wade,” Millhiser said. But if anti-abortion groups thought previous Supreme Court rulings opened the door to more and more onerous regulation of abortion, the Whole Woman’s Health opinion “slams that door shut, bolts it, places a bar over it, and pushes a sofa behind the door.” Meanwhile, in an analysis on SCOTUSblog, Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf described H.B. 2 and similar restrictions purportedly focused on health and safety as “guerilla warfare against abortion itself” 2014 a legally risky ploy that ended up backfiring badly. “Lawyers should be on notice that Justices cannot be tricked into ruling against their druthers, at least if the law leaves any wiggle room at all,” Dorf wrote.

Justice Stephen Breyer’s majority opinion was unmemorable, but masterful. “There’s not much in Justice Breyer’s opinion that’s quotable,” said Linda Greenhouse in the New York Times, who described the tone as “dry, almost clinical.” “But there’s not much that’s debatable either, and that’s what matters.” The fact-filled opinion offered something that’s been missing from the court’s discussion of abortion for the last 25 years, added the Times’ Emily Bazelon: “its focus on women 2014 their health, well-being and ability to access a constitutional right. Maybe that sounds obvious, but in many of the court’s previous rulings on this subject, it has been anything but.” Meanwhile, the fact that a “wonky male justice” wrote the opinion “drains the last modicum of gendered passion from the morning,” said Dahlia Lithwick at Slate. “This isn’t just a women’s case about women’s rights and women’s health. It’s a case about pretextual laws that could have caused untold damage and about the constitutionally protected right to choose, which has been bolstered by a majority of the Supreme Court that includes two men.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy continues to evolve in surprising ways. In two of the most important cases of the term, on abortion and affirmative action, Kennedy broke with his past rulings, noted Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern. “Kennedy’s jurisprudence has entered a bold new era, one less doctrinally rigid and more nuanced toward race and gender in the United States today,” Stern wrote. At the Washington Post, op-ed columnist David Cole praised Kennedy’s “surprisingly open mind”: “Breaking with one’s peers and rethinking one’s commitments are not easy. In our increasingly divided political culture, many of us rarely do2026. [I]t’s an attribute especially important in those who hold the power to enforce constitutional law.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may be planting seeds for the future. Some court-watchers puzzled over why the Notorious RBG, who signed on to Breyer’s opinion, would bother to write a two-page concurrence as well. Linda Hirshman, author of “Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World,” thinks she knows. At some point soon, courts will have to return to the issue of whether targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP laws) like H.B. 2 are ever valid to protect women’s health. “She is writing into law the factual finding that abortion is safe, full stop,” Hirshman wrote in the Post, giving future courts the precedential language they need to overturn such laws.

Abortion laws are likely to fall around the country 2014 but not without a fight. By striking down Texas’s tough abortion restrictions, the Supreme Court “has emboldened abortion-rights activists nationwide and imperiled a range of anti-abortion laws in numerous states,” the conservative site NewsMax reported, adding that anti-abortion leaders were “bracing for the demise of restrictions that they had worked vigorously to enact over the past few years.” Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, told Bloomberg that his group doesn’t read the decision “as foreclosing all clinic regulations and admitting privilege requirements, but it clearly puts a greater burden on the states to give the justices more evidence.” The Supreme Court’s decision only applies to Texas, Vox’s Sarah Kliff and Sarah Frostenson point out. “Each of the other state laws will need to be challenged and also found unconstitutional.”

 

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

A representative from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office outlined on Thursday the bills the governor’s office will back during the upcoming special session, but…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…
Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Want to know what Albuquerque’s climate might be like in 2080? Head to Roswell

Thanks to climate change, the Albuquerque of the future may feel a bit more like present-day Roswell. That’s according to a new web app…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

With nearly 53 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, most of the legislative candidates endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New…
New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

Food insecurity is on the rise as state benefits have decreased and the future of federal benefits have an uncertain future.  Sonya Warwick, director…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican candidate Yvette Herrell, who is running against Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat, committed herself to a message…
Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

President Joe Biden leads former president Donald Trump in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral seats, according to a poll commissioned by NM…
Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

The Democratic National Committee announced on Monday that it will spend $70,000 for organizing staff to aid U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat trying…
SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

SCOTUS rejects proposed resolution to Rio Grande water dispute

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a proposed settlement that would have ended the more-than decade-long dispute between Texas and New…
FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

FWS says two Rio Grande fish do not warrant listing under Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that two fish species found in New Mexico do not meet the criteria for listing them as…
NM voters support abortion rights

NM voters support abortion rights

A majority of New Mexicans believe that New Mexico’s abortion laws should be less restrictive or should remain about the same as they are…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report