Thursday, July 7, 2016

On June 27, the 5-3 decision in Whole Women’s Health vs. Hellerstadt was released by the Supreme Court, striking down Texas HB2, a law directly impacting women’s health providers by requiring hospital admitting privileges for any doctor or nurse providing abortion care services.  A second provision of HB2 would have required every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services to meet the same hospital-like building standards as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC). Both provisions were struck down.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the majority opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also wrote a separate concurring statement to further the point of abortion safety and wrote:

“Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States” – citing the brief for Social Science Researchers as Amici Curiae that compiled studies that show complication rates from abortion are very low. “Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory-surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements.”

It is important to note that Justice Ginsburg included childbirth in the list.

The American Academy of Nursing was among the 45 organizations, individuals and institutions to provide supporting evidence for the decision based on rigorous scientific evidence. As the largest group of health care professionals dedicated to supporting the health and safety of their patients, nurses recognize that legislation restricting patient access to abortion keeps us from caring for women and their families, and providing the care for which we are trained.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights: “Today’s ruling is entirely consistent with lower court rulings in challenges to similar laws in Mississippi and Louisiana which found the measures likely unconstitutional; the clinics in those states will remain open while the litigation continues.”

AWHONN is proud to support our patients, their families and our members by providing up to date information on legislative changes that impact clinical practice. For more information on sexual and reproductive health issues, visit Reproductive Health in Nursing’s website.