Maternal and Child Health

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: Supreme Court Decision

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt: Supreme Court Decision

United Methodist Women Issue Priority:

Maternal and Child Health

Decision Summary:

In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a 2013 Texas law that required women’s health centers providing abortion services to comply with building specifications previously limited to ambulatory surgery centers and required that all doctors providing abortion services to obtain admitting privileges to local hospitals no further than 30 miles away. This included clinics where other health services were provided and those where the only abortion services offered were through oral medication. After the passage of this law, known as HB2, more than half of Texas’ 40 clinics providing abortion services closed due to the regulations and the expense of compliance. Had the law not been stuck down, it is estimated that the state would soon be left with fewer than 10 abortion providers, greatly increasing wait times, possibly into the second trimester, and driving up the rate of death and injury suffered by women seeking unsafe abortions. With this decision, the Court stated unequivocally that both the admitting privileges and the surgical center requirements create substantial barriers for women seeking a pre-viability abortion and constitute an undue burden on abortion access, both of which violate the U.S. Constitution.

United Methodist Women Policy:

Multiple policies and United Methodist Resolutions affirm the necessity of access to comprehensive reproductive health care for all women and girls. This includes the UMW policies, Responsible Parenthood and Healthcare for All, and United Methodist resolutions including Maternal Health: The Church’s Role (Book of Resolutions, 2012) and Global Health: Eradicating Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (2016). These policies reflect the carefully nuanced, compassionate position of The United Methodist Church as stated in the Social Principles: “We recognize the tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.” (¶161J) United Methodist Women affirms this position in our own policies and in our work. With this decision, the Supreme Court continues to uphold what United Methodist Women and The United Methodist Church has called for: The safe and legal access to comprehensive reproductive health care services, including abortion procedures when women are faced with the “tragic conflicts of life with life.”

Take Action:

Read or participate in the 2016 Mission u Spiritual Growth Study The Bible and Human Sexuality to build a greater understanding of gender and sexuality in the Bible and the implications for us today.  You can also explore the official position of Link opens in a new window. The United Methodist Church. Find resources on how to support women’s health in your community by connecting with a local Maternal and Child Health Coalition, a women’s health clinic, or visiting United Methodist Women's Maternal and Child Health resource page to learn more about the challenges women face around the world in accessing safe reproductive health care and family planning services and how you can support them.

Posted or updated: 6/30/2016 11:00:00 PM
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