In its most significant decision related to abortion in decades, the US Supreme Court has ruled that a Texas law placing restrictions on clinics that provide abortions is unconstitutional. In January 2016, a pro bono team from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP filed an amicus brief in the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, outlining the substantial harm that Texas women would face if the law’s most damaging provisions had gone into effect. Those provisions required all clinics to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, and required doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The law had already cut the number of facilities providing abortions in Texas by half, forcing women to travel great distances across the state or to other states for access to safe, affordable, and legal abortions.

Milbank filed the amicus brief on behalf of Freedom of Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), Dr. Amesh Adalja, Dr. Paul Hsieh (Forbes), Dr. Karen Salmieri, and Jacob Sullum (Reason magazine). The brief argued that unjustifiable health care regulations such as the Texas law “decrease the quality and quantity of services available while increasing their price. In the context of abortion, such regulations not only distort the market for and circumscribe access to the relevant services by dictating how physicians and other health care providers practice medicine; they also undermine a patient’s liberty, autonomy, and ability to make health care decisions responsibly.”

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ruling “will have national impact in states where similar laws threaten to shutter abortion clinics with medically unnecessary red tape.”

Click here to read the decision, and here to read the amicus brief, prepared by Milbank Litigation partner Atara Miller and associates Erin Culbertson and Emily Lilburn.