(New York, NY, Tuesday, June 30, 2020) – The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is gratified by Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June Medical Services v. Russo, which affirms the reproductive rights of women in this country. The Court decided by a vote of 5 to 4 to invalidate a Louisiana law that, if permitted to stand, would have reduced the number of clinics providing abortion services to one for the entire state. A majority of the Court correctly found that the law imposed a “substantial obstacle” for women seeking abortion services, that there were no “significant health-related benefits” to the law, and, therefore, the law was unconstitutional. The Court also held that the issue of whether abortion providers could be prohibited from practicing if they did not have admitting privileges at a local hospital had already been decided in the negative in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a 2016 Supreme Court decision that invalidated a substantially similar statute in Texas.
WBASNY, which has long supported women’s freedom of choice in regard to their reproductive health, participated in June Medical by joining more than 70 other non-profit organizations in the filing of a “friend of the court” brief sponsored by the National Women’s Law Center. The brief emphasized the fundamental liberty interests at stake for women, and it supported the undue-burden analysis in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence. Joy A. Thompson, President of WBASNY, stated: “For more than 47 years, the Supreme Court has recognized that the decision whether and when to have a child is one of the most important decisions a woman will make. Laws like the one in Louisiana that was struck down Monday have fundamental implications for women’s health, economic security, safety and autonomy.”
Many states have enacted statutes restricting women’s access to abortion services. Others have passed laws protecting such access. In 2019, New York enacted the Reproductive Health Act, which codifies Roe v. Wade into state law, protecting the women who choose and the doctors who provide abortion services.
The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is the professional membership organization of choice for more than 4,000 attorneys throughout New York State, and the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country. For four decades, WBASNY has been a singularly important resource for women lawyers, with professional networking, continuing legal education programming, leadership training, and advocacy for the rights of women, children, and families. Through involvement with WBASNY’s 20 regional chapters and its 40-plus substantive law committees, WBASNY’s members collaborate with one another on a variety of issues and perform public and community service, in furtherance of its mission to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and women in the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular. WBASNY holds United Nations NGO status with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Special Consultative status in association with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WBASNY is also a founding member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.