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Statement of Support in Supreme Court Reproductive Freedom Case

I joined elected officials from around the country in signing an open letter of support for state legislators who shared their abortion stories in an amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in Whole Women’s Health v. Cole. The Center for Reproductive Rights is organizing the letter (see text below).


Four of our colleagues—the Honorable Wendy Davis of Texas, Teresa Fedor of Ohio, Lucy Flores of Nevada, and Judy Nicastro of Washington State—filed a friend-of-the-court brief on January 4, 2016, with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a lawsuit challenging provisions of Texas HB2, a sweeping law imposing numerous restrictions on access to abortion. In their brief, the current and former legislators bravely share their perspectives as women who made the decision to have an abortion. The brief is one of 45 friend-of-the-court briefs filed in the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, that urge the Court to once again affirm longstanding precedent and uphold a woman’s constitutional right to access safe and legal abortion services.

Texas HB2 was designed to shut down abortion clinics and has already forced more than half of Texas’ clinics to close their doors. If the challenged provisions are upheld, it will leave 10 or fewer abortion clinics open in Texas, the second-most populous state in the nation, and will gravely harm women in Texas. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on March 2.

We are state and local legislators who know that the decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt will have an impact well beyond Texas’ borders. Many states have enacted similar clinic shutdown laws that require abortion providers to have local hospital admitting privileges or require first-trimester abortion clinics to meet hospital-like building standards. While federal and state courts alike have blocked these requirements in several states, in others they remain in effect, threatening continued access to safe, legal abortion care. And of course, the crisis in access to abortion care encompasses far more than these specific restrictions. The reality is that many more states are facing—or will face—additional restrictions intended to force quality, safe abortion providers to stop providing needed care. The Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt may shape the landscape of abortion access in the United States for generations to come.

We commend and respect these four courageous lawmakers for their willingness to share with the Supreme Court their personal stories about their abortion experiences. Their brief details some of the backlash they experienced for making their stories public. We stand with them—in solidarity and support—in their call to the Supreme Court that the constitutional right to an abortion should not be eroded by legislators using deceitful methods and theories to chip away at Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey under false pretenses. The health and well-being of women depend on abortion remaining legal, safe, and accessible.


Richard N. Gottfried

Member of the New York State Assembly