One of the inevitable results of a big Supreme Court decision on a complex and highly controversial topic like abortion is that it will usually spur fresh challenges to laws newly exposed as potentially unconstitutional. Monday’s Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt decision will definitely have that effect.
Clinic restrictions similar to Texas’s in 11 states — six of them on hold pending this week’s SCOTUS action — are likely to fall, even without new litigation. And on another front, Planned Parenthood has announced a new wave of lawsuits, initially in eight states, challenging other laws justified on “medical” or “health” grounds that run afoul of SCOTUS’s interpretation of an “undue burden” on abortion rights.
States and anti-abortion groups, of course, will fight back in an effort to narrow the scope of prohibited restrictions. It could, however, mean a change in tactics for anti-abortion activists, back toward a focus on fetal rights instead of reducing the supply of abortion services. Merits aside, such an approach would be a lot more honest and less patronizing than alleged measures to protect women from themselves.