Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a monumental abortion case known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
At stake: Texas laws that make it so hard to access abortion that, for example, one woman in that state now calls herself an "abortion travel agent" because she helps women in rural parts of Texas travel long distances to the few remaining abortion clinics.
The regulations in question—so-called "TRAP laws"—are supported by people who claim they want to protect women from unsafe abortion clinics, but are in fact intended to shut down clinics and reduce women's access to abortion. Laws like theses endanger women, forcing them to travel long distances, wait longer to get an abortion, or attempt to self-induce the procedure.
More on what exactly the court is considering, from Mother Jones:
In Whole Woman's Health, the Supreme Court will consider two provisions of HB 2: the requirement that abortions be performed only in ambulatory surgical centers, hospital-like facilities usually used to perform outpatient surgery, and the mandate that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have repeatedly noted that these restrictions are not necessary to provide safe abortion care, while anti-abortion groups contend that the restrictions are crucial to protect women's health.
The court will have to decide whether these restrictions constitute an "undue burden" on a woman's right to get an abortion. This standard was established in the court's 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy but allowed states to regulate this right, provided that state laws don't place an "undue burden" on women.
So far, the court is divided. From the New York Times:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared sharply and perhaps evenly divided in its first major abortion case in almost a decade, one that has the potential to revise constitutional standards and to affect millions of women.
Several justices seemed frustrated by gaps in the factual record presented to them. The three more conservative justices said there was little evidence that clinics have closed or would close because of the law.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who almost certainly holds the crucial vote, mused that it might be useful to return the case to the lower courts to develop more evidence. He said it would help to know how many abortions could be performed in the clinics that would remain open if a restrictive Texas law was allowed to become fully effective.
The court’s four liberal justices were adamant that the restrictions imposed by the law served no medical purpose and cannot pass constitutional muster.
Meanwhile, outside the court:
Some people had lined up as early as Tuesday night for the chance to witness the arguments, and less than an hour before they began, the demonstrations were outgrowing the sidewalk and police officers struggled to keep people out of the street.
One woman urged on those who had congregated, holding signs with messages like “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” and “No Uterus No Opinion.” Speak up, she said, “so they’ll know that there’s a whole lot of people out here that they’re going to have to answer to!”
A group of anti-abortion demonstrators stood in a wide circle, quietly facing the crowd with signs that read “Protect Women Protect Life,” as abortion rights activists formed a ring around them, blocking them from view.