Shearman & Sterling filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and a number of individual retired or former military officers in support of petitioners in an abortion rights case before the US Supreme Court, Whole Women’s Health v. Cole.
SWAN is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for the increasing number of women who serve, or have served, in our nation’s military. The individual amici are retired or former officers of the US military who have had decades of extensive experience and accomplishment in military leadership. These amici support protecting service women’s constitutional rights and access to health care and have an interest in furthering such goals. This amicus brief seeks to inform the Supreme Court as to the particular burdens that Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) imposes on the constitutional rights of women serving in the armed forces. The drastic reduction of abortion service providers in Texas resulting from HB2 particularly burdens female military members’ constitutional rights, due to specific characteristics of military service. With 10 or fewer abortion providers likely to remain open in Texas, many service women in the numerous military bases in that state will be left without any reasonably accessible providers. Service women cannot choose where they are based, and they cannot travel at will to distant abortion care providers. HB2’s burdens on service women are particularly objectionable as women continue, and are increasingly recognized, to be a growing and vital part of the United States’ armed forces. Furthermore, failing to protect service women’s constitutional rights may undermine maintaining and perfecting a diverse and effective armed forces.