This week: WLP Heads to the Keystone Progress Summit


Along with hundreds of Pennsylvania progressives, the Women’s Law Project is heading to Harrisburg on Friday for the Keystone Progress Summit (formerly called the PA Progressive Summit).

Look for us on Saturday at “Abortion at the Supreme Court this Year: What It Means for Us,” a panel assembled to discuss and explore Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the all-important abortion case out of Texas that could shape the future of abortion access in Pennsylvania, and across the country, for decades.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the justices will review two provisions of HB2, a Texas law designed to shut down clinics that provide safe, legal abortion services under the guise of improving women’s health. In doing so, they will answer the question reproductive rights advocates have been asking for the last several years: If the Constitution protects the right to abortion, how can our courts uphold laws that close down safe abortion providers and thereby deny many women access to care?

The Women’s Law Project filed a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of 10 abortion providers based in Pennsylvania. Oral arguments are scheduled for March 2.

On the panel:

Sue Frietsche, reproductive health legal expert and Senior Staff Attorney at the Women’s Law Project

Curtiss Hannum, nurse practitioner and Vice President of Programming and Center Affairs at The Women’s Centers

Tara Murtha, journalist and Associate Director of Strategic Communications at the Women’s Law Project

We will also explore how the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch anti-choice voice, may change the dynamics of the case. David S. Cohen, WLP board member and professor of law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, addressed this issue in an article published in Rolling Stone over the weekend:

For this term, what this means is that Roe v. Wade is safe. In the abortion case currently before the Court, the Texas federal appeals court found Texas’ abortion restrictions constitutional. If Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, believes the restrictions are unconstitutional, the outcome would be the same now as before: a five-justice majority striking the law down (assuming the four liberals join him, which is a good assumption).

But if he decides the law is constitutional (and the four liberals think it’s unconstitutional), that would result in a 4-4 decision. The appeals court decision would remain, which would mean the Texas restrictions could go into effect. This would be disastrous for the women of Texas. However, many people feared this case would be a vehicle for the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. A 4-4 decision cannot do that.

The Women’s Law Project will also be hosting a table in the exhibit hall, talking about abortion access in Pennsylvania and the PA Campaign for Women’s Health, a growing coalition of more than 50 organizations advocating for evidence-based policy to protect and improve women’s health and economic security in Pennsylvania.

Please come by and say hello. If you are on twitter, follow us all weekend at @WomensLawProj.

Register for the Keystone Progress Summit here.

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The Women’s Law Project is the only public interest law center in Pennsylvania devoted to advancing the rights of women and girls.

About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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