Faced with a New Supreme Court, Indies Fight for All of Us

As of November 13, 2020

Independent abortion clinics provide the majority of abortion care in the United States, serving three out of every five people who have an abortion. These clinics provide care when and where others do not — operating in the most politically hostile states for abortion access and compassionately providing care as pregnancy progresses. But that’s not all — independent clinics also play a crucial role in protecting and defending our rights by challenging numerous abortion restrictions in the courts.

With the recent confirmation of anti-abortion Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the Supreme Court’s balance has shifted to the most conservative court in generations. Abortion access and Roe v. Wade are under imminent threat. Any day now, the Supreme Court could take up another case involving abortion, and the outcome could devastate clinic staff, patients, and entire communities.

Independent clinics are involved in the majority of the abortion-related cases currently in federal courts. Any of these cases, listed below, could potentially go in front of this Supreme Court and its newly conservative majority. By challenging abortion restrictions in the courts, independent clinics fight for all of us. In fact, two independent clinics, Whole Woman’s Health in Texas and Hope Medical Group for Women in Louisiana, won the last two Supreme Court abortion-related cases.

All of the challenged restrictions in these cases threaten our human rights, deny the constitutional right to abortion, and push bodily autonomy farther out of reach — whether it’s medically unnecessary gestation bans or TRAP laws aimed to shut down clinics. These laws do nothing to improve the health and safety of people seeking abortions. Instead, they are meant to prevent abortion providers from providing dignified, expert care and severely restrict abortion access, especially for our most marginalized communities.

Independent clinics are fierce defenders of abortion access both in their communities and in the courts. They show up time and time again to fight for all of us — and they need your support for the fights ahead.

Abortion-Related Cases Involving Independent Clinics That Could Go to Supreme Court

1st Circuit Court of Appeals Cases

  • Independent clinic Maine Family Planning challenge the Title X facility separation for abortion care and gag rule regulation. Case name: Family Planning Assn. of Maine et al. v. HHS et al.

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Cases

  • Independent clinic Jackson Women’s Health Organization (along with individual physicians) challenge a Mississippi law that would ban abortion at fifteen-weeks. Case name: Jackson Women’s Health Organization et al. v. Thomas Dobbs et al., №18–60868.
  • Independent clinics Whole Woman’s Health, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, and Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center (along with individual physicians, and Planned Parenthood) challenge a Texas law that bans the use of the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, the most common abortion procedure used starting early in the second trimester of pregnancy. Case name: Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Ken Paxton et al., №17–51060.
  • Independent clinics Whole Woman’s Health, Alamo, Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center, and Reproductive Services (along with individual physicians) challenge a Texas law designed to stigmatize abortion and shame patients who seek abortion services by requiring fetal tissue to be buried or cremated. Case name: Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Charles Smith, №18–50730.

6th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

  • Independent clinics CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health and Bristol Regional Women’s Center challenge Tennessee’s mandatory 48 hour, two-trip waiting period law. Case name: Adams and Boyle v. Slatery.
  • Independent clinic EMW Women’s Surgical Center (along with individual physicians) challenge a Kentucky law that bans the use of the dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortion procedure, the most common abortion procedure used starting early in the second trimester of pregnancy. Case name: EMW Women’s Surgical Center et al. v. Beshear.
  • Independent clinic EMW Women’s Surgical Center (along with Planned Parenthood) challenge medically unnecessary Kentucky laws that require abortion providers maintain written transfer agreements with a local hospital and a transport agreement with ambulance services. Case name: EMW Women’s Surgical Center et al. v. Adam Meier et al., №18–6161.
  • Independent clinics Preterm, Women’s Med Group Professional Corporation (along with individual physicians and Planned Parenthood) challenge an Ohio law banning abortions if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is a diagnosis of Down syndrome. This stigmatizing law does nothing to address the severe health care disparities people with disabilities face. Case name: Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio et al. v. Amy Acton et al., №18–3329.
  • Independent clinics CHOICES: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health, Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health, Carafem, (along with Planned Parenthood) challenge a broad Tennessee law that: Bans abortion at six, eight, ten, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, and twenty-four weeks of pregnancy. The six-week ban takes effect first; if that ban is found unconstitutional, the eight-week ban takes effect; if the eight-week ban is found unconstitutional, the ten-week ban takes effect; and so on. Bans abortion if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is based on the fetus’s sex or race, or diagnosis of Down Syndrome. Case name: Memphis Center for Reproductive Health et al. v. Herbert H. Slatery III et al., №20–5969.

8th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

  • Independent clinic Little Rock Family Planning (along with individual physicians and Planned Parenthood) challenge three Arkansas abortion restrictions: an eighteen-week abortion ban; a ban on abortion if a provider learns the reason for seeking abortion services is because a diagnosis of Down syndrome; a requirement that all abortion providers be board-certified or board-eligible OB-GYNs. Case name: Little Rock Family Planning Services et al. v. Leslie Rutledge et al., №19–2690.

11th Circuit Court of Appeals cases

  • Independent clinic Reproductive Health Services (along with an individual clinician) challenge part of an Alabama parental-consent law requiring that the court allow the district attorney and minor’s parents to participate in judicial bypass proceedings, putting minors in an abusive household at risk. Case name: Reproductive Health Services et al. v. Daryl Bailey et al., №17–13561.
  • Independent clinics Feminist Women’s Health Center, Atlanta Comprehensive Wellness Clinic, Atlanta Women’s Medical Center, Summit Medical Associates, Columbus Women’s Health Organization, Carafem (along with SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, individual physicians, and Planned Parenthood) challenge a Georgia law that would ban abortion at six weeks. Case name: SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective et al. v. Brian Kemp et al., №20–13024-G.

Abortion Care Network is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting independent abortion care providers; you can see a full list of our independent clinic members here.

For press inquiries, contact media@abortioncarenetwork.org.

Abortion Care Network supports independent abortion care providers in the United States. www.facebook.com/abortioncarenetwork or on Twitter @AbortionCare