Willkie Submits Amici Curiae Brief to U.S. Supreme Court in Abortion Rights Case

January 7, 2016

Filed on behalf of 12 organizations, the brief focuses on the devastating impact a Texas law will have on African-American women.

Willkie recently filed an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the high-profile abortion rights case currently pending before the Court. The case is a challenge to a Texas law requiring abortion providers to hold admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

The brief was filed on behalf of 12 organizations dedicated to the fight for reproductive justice. It focuses on the devastating impact the challenged provisions of the law known as “HB 2” will have on African-American women in Texas. It details the systemic barriers African-American women have faced and continue to face in accessing quality reproductive healthcare and the inferior health outcomes they experience as a result, including higher risk of maternal morbidity, higher rates of preterm delivery and sexually transmitted infections, and higher mortality rates from breast cancer and cervical cancer. The brief argues that a significant number of women seeking abortion and other reproductive health services from the closed and threatened clinics are African-American and that, because of the economic inequality and lack of access to health insurance they face, it is extremely unlikely that African-American women will be able to overcome the substantial obstacles imposed by the challenged HB 2 provisions. As a result, the challenged HB 2 provisions will have the practical effect of barring many African-American women in Texas from exercising their right to obtain a pre-viability abortion outright and, thus, are unconstitutional.

The organizations participating in the brief include In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda; The Afiya Center; Access Reproductive Care-Southeast; Black Women for Wellness; Black Women’s Health Imperative; New Voices for Reproductive Justice; SisterLove, Inc.; SisterReach; SisterSong – The National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective; SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW!; URGE: United for Reproductive & Gender Equity; and Women With a Vision, Inc.

The Willkie team on the brief was led by partners Wesley Powell and Mary Eaton and included associates Timothy McGinn, Sarah Wastler, Lara Kasten and Allison Klein.