Supreme Court hearing sets up landmark decision on abortion
The divisive issue of abortion returns to the United States Supreme Court on Wednesday in a case from Texas that could dramatically shift the legal landscape for women’s reproductive rights nationwide.
At issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is whether a Texas law – House Bill 2 – is an acceptable regulation of abortion providers in accord with the high court’s prior abortion rulings. The case will examine whether the measure is creating substantial obstacles for Texas women in a way that places an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to end her pregnancy before fetal viability.
Legal analysts say the deciding vote will likely be cast by Justice Anthony Kennedy. If he sides with the court’s conservatives it would form a 4-to-4 tie which would mean that an earlier appeals court ruling in the Texas case would stand.
The eight-person Supreme Court would mean that in a 4-4 split, the opinion of the appeals court would stand without setting a national precedent, as if the Court had never decided to take the case in the first place.