(WOMENSENEWS)–The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in Texas on Feb. 13 ends the dominance of the U.S. Supreme Court by anti-choice justices.
With the court now divided 4-4 until a new justice is named by President Barack Obama and approved by the U.S. Senate, the outcomes to two major reproductive rights cases may be more likely to be decided on the side of women’s reproductive health advocates. The court is expected to make decisions that will determine women’s access to reproductive health clinics and health insurance that covers contraception.
As reported by Women’s eNews in January, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole asks the Supreme Court to rule on a challenge to a 2013 Texas law that imposes two strict regulations on abortion providers. Under the new law, the number of facilities providing abortion in Texas fell to 22 from 41 between May and November 2013.
In Zubik v. Burwell, the Supreme Court agreed to settle a dispute over the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate, which requires employers to provide free insurance coverage for certain types of birth control. Seven cases related to the issue were consolidated and were scheduled to be deliberated in March for a June ruling.
In January 2011, Justice Scalia was quoted as saying the 14th Amendment of the constitution did not bar gender discrimination. Appearing in California Lawyer, the statement was widely challenged and remains controversial.
–By Rita Henley Jensen