Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt is a consequential decision, although far from a decisive victory for abortion defenders. Hellerstedt strikes down a Texas law that would have made legal in-state abortion in practice all but unobtainable for poor and rural women. The decision contains a number of surprises that will hearten supporters of reproductive rights. Surprise number one is that the swing justice, Anthony Kennedy, contributed the fifth vote. Kennedy is hardly a reliable supporter of abortion rights; but with his vote the Hellerstedt majority would have been secure even if Justice Scalia had lived to cast his reliable anti abortion rights vote.
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