Dr. Manisha Sharma and I represented Doctors for America at a “Stop the Sham” rally on the steps of the US Supreme Court March 2, joining thousands of other supporters of women’s access to safe and legal abortion care, on a very cold and windy day.
The 8 Justices were hearing oral arguments in one of the most significant abortion case in decades, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Abortion providers in Texas, led by Whole Woman’s Health, have challenged Texas HB2, a law that forces abortion clinics to meet the standards of hospital-style surgery centers and requires providers to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. These TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are shams, designed to shut clinics down while pretending to make clinics safe. Much riskier procedures, such as colonoscopies, are never the targets of these types of laws. Already, with the law partially in place, about half of the more than 40 abortion clinics in Texas have closed. If the law comes into full effect, the Texas, a state with a population of 27 million, could be left with just nine or 10 clinics.
A small group of anti-abortion protesters was present, but the huge crowd supporting women vastly outnumbered them. We heard from numerous speakers, including Dr. Bhavik Kumar (a friend of Manisha and Texas abortion provider), Representative Jan Schakowsky, and Dr. Willie Parker (an abortion doctor in Mississippi). Stephanie Toti, the lawyer from the Center for Reproductive Rights, spoke to the crowd after she argued the case in front of the Supreme Court.
Dr. Katherine Scheirman is a retired internist and US Air Force Colonel who resides in New York.