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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE       

June 27th, 2016

Contact: Jen Aulwes, 651-755-9557, [email protected]

St. Paul, MN – Today, the Supreme Court of the United States protected access to safe, legal abortion by blocking two unconstitutional Texas restrictions that threatened to close all but nine health centers in the entire state that could provide abortion for the 5.4 million Texas women of reproductive age — down from approximately 40 health centers before passage of this dangerous law. As the Court recognized, “neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.”

In response, Planned Parenthood has vowed to redouble its efforts to fight restrictions on safe, legal abortion in our region. Since 2011, state lawmakers nation-wide have passed more than 316 restrictions on safe, legal abortion, and have introduced 442 in the first six months of 2016 alone.

Similar laws have been introduced in the Minnesota legislature in recent years.  Since 2012, legislators have introduced bills four times requiring abortion clinics in Minnesota to be designed like ambulatory surgical centers. Governor Dayton vetoed the bill in 2012 and in other years it did not reach the Governor’s desk.  In 2006 and 2007, the legislature also introduced a bill requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, to no avail.

The following is a statement from Sarah Stoesz, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS)

“Today the Court announced a strong and positive ruling that recognized that these laws do not enhance patient safety -- rather, they punish women by blocking access to safe, legal abortion. This landmark ruling is an enormous victory for women.

“Yet today’s victory does not undo the past five years of damage and restrictions already written into law. In Texas, thousands of women have gone without basic care such as cancer screenings and birth control because their closest health center was closed as a result of this law.  Texas women also saw a rise in unintended pregnancies and researches estimate that up to 100,000 women have attempted to self-abort without medical assistance since the law was passed. These health outcomes were completely avoidable.

“Today’s victory doesn’t erase the negative impact the state legislature has had on women and we cannot forget that. No woman or doctor should be punished for receiving or providing essential medical care. We will continue to fight restrictions on safe, legal abortion on behalf of our patients. We will not be punished, and we will not go back.

BACKGROUND

Planned Parenthood operates 18 clinics and an online health service in Minnesota, one clinic in South Dakota that serves as the state’s only abortion clinic, and an education and advocacy office in North Dakota.

Today’s decision: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt centered on two medically unnecessary restrictions in Texas's omnibus anti-abortion law (known as “HB2”). Those provisions are two of the most common types of targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP):

  • Burdensome, medically unnecessary and often prohibitively expensive building requirements that force health centers to be designed like ambulatory surgical centers; and
  • A medically unnecessary requirement that abortion providers have local hospital admitting privileges — which can be impossible to get for political and other reasons that have nothing to do with a doctor’s qualifications.

Both provisions have nothing to do with making abortion safer — they’re designed to force abortion providers to close.

As a result of this decision, Texas's admitting privileges and building requirements are eliminated, but the decision does not immediately undo TRAP laws in all states.

  • In Texas, the remaining health centers that provide abortion would be able to stay open, and some of the health centers that HB2 already shuttered could possibly provide care again at some point.
  • Beyond Texas, the decision could affect some cases on anti-abortion restrictions — but will have to be looked at on a state-by-state basis.
  • In the long-term, a ruling like this could ensure stronger constitutional protections for abortion access across the United States.

Blocking access to reproductive health care has real and disastrous consequences for all people. This often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care -- as National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, In Our Own Voice, and other Reproductive Justice organizations have demonstrated.

 

A PerryUndem poll commissioned by Vox found that the majority of Americans oppose restrictions meant to close health centers or make it more difficult for women to access abortion, and that 70 percent of Americans don’t want to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade.

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For more than 85 years, Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota has worked in our region to make sure all people have the information and the means to make free and responsible decisions about whether and when to have children.  Planned Parenthood operates 19 clinics in Minnesota and South Dakota and an Online Health Center, providing quality and affordable family planning, reproductive health care services and education to nearly 65,000  women and men each year.

Visit us on the web at www.ppmns.org