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Constitutional Rights & the Public’s Health

Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson

Overview

Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson (Supreme Court of the United States, September 1, 2021): The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a Texas abortion restriction which prohibits abortions after fetal heartbeat detection and enables members of the general public to bring lawsuits against anyone believed to be in violation of the prohibition, or in aiding and abetting a violation. Abortion patients are excluded from this enforcement mechanism. On September 1, after the law had already gone into effect, the Supreme Court declined to block it, explaining that the request presented “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” requiring further clarity. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan would have blocked the law pending further litigation. Justice Sotomayor, in dissent, called the Court’s order “stunning” and the Texas bill “a breathtaking act of defiance—of the Constitution, of this Court’s precedents, of the rights of women seeking abortions throughout Texas.” Justice Kagan criticized the Court’s decision and its continued issuance of opinions via the shadow docket (e.g., without normal procedural formalities), stating the court’s actions therein “every day become[] more unreasoned, inconsistent, and impossible to defend.” Read the Opinions here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – September 15, 2021.

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