Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: A Rally to Remember

By Brittany Romagnoli, President’s Office Intern

On March 2, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case. This case acknowledges how targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws in Texas are designed to shut down more than 75% of all women’s health clinics that provide abortion services in the state. While the oral arguments were being heard inside the court, over 2,000 Pro-Choice supporters gathered outside the court. Numerous women’s rights and reproductive rights organizations gathered around to show their support and to advocate for a cause we all strongly believe in.  NOW was glad to stand side by side with our allied organizations and rally behind this cause to fight for women nationwide. All women need safe and secure access to abortion clinics, especially in areas like Texas where there are a limited number of clinics.

Being an intern at NOW and new to Washington D.C. this was my first Pro-Choice rally. It was truly an amazing experience to see thousands of supporters out in front of the Supreme Court coming together for this case. Speakers and reproductive rights advocates traveled from across the county to attend the rally. They voiced their opinions and outrage over this case, and shared their own personal stories about accessing and providing safe and legal abortion. Some speakers we had the opportunity to listen to were Sonya Renee Founder of The Body Is Not An Apology, La’Tasha D. Mayes Founder of New Voices for Reproductive Justice, and Miriam Yeung Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum. All these women are true champions of reproductive rights, and their speeches were truly inspiring.

While the rally was a great experience, it is extremely important to remember what is at stake moving forward with this case. The Supreme Court has made it clear that women have a constitutional right to abortion and that states cannot pass laws that create an undue burden for people exercising that right. This was affirmed in the most recent 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey case. A plurality opinion written by Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter stated,

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the 14th Amendment.”

As the case progresses, we can only hope that a decision is reached which reflects the decisions made in cases such as Casey and Roe. We should have access to safe and secure abortion. Should politicians in Texas succeed in their efforts, many clinics will be forced to close their doors and women will be forced to travel hundreds of miles or turn to illegal unsafe abortion options. We need to make progress in terms of reproductive health and abortion access, not take ten steps back.

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