January 5, 2016
GLAD and a coalition of 13 other LGBT, racial justice, and health equity organizations have filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down draconian restrictions on abortion providers enacted by the State of Texas in 2013. If upheld, the restrictions would lead to the closing of most abortion clinics in the state.
The brief urges the Court to carefully scrutinize the state’s asserted justification for the law, as the Court has done with other laws that infringe upon fundamental freedoms. The State of Texas has argued that the law protects the health of women seeking abortion, but the evidence at trial showed just the opposite. Medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association have explained that the restrictions imposed by the new law are medically unnecessary and endanger, rather than advance, women’s health.
“Spurious medical claims lead only to mischief and certainly cannot justify governments infringing on people’s constitutionally-protected liberties,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “We urge the Court to give due scrutiny to the health claims asserted by the state of Texas in supporting this injurious law which, if allowed to stand, will cause great harm to millions of women in the state for no public benefit.”
Pseudo-science has been used throughout American history to exclude individuals and groups from the full protection of essential constitutional liberties, including laws barring interracial marriage, excluding women from certain professions, permitting the forced sterilization of those deemed “inferior,” and criminalizing and discriminating against LGBT people. GLAD and its fellow amici urge the Court to look to this history and fulfill its constitutional obligation to examine carefully the State’s asserted justifications for restricting women’s fundamental right to reproductive autonomy.
In addition to GLAD, the organizations filing the brief are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Equal Justice Society, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, Equality Federation, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Immigration Equality, the National Health Law Program, Movement Advancement Project, and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom.