5 Ways Abortion Rights Protect Women’s Health

The healthcare advances we’d abandon if women lose access to abortion care

Tara Haelle
7 min readMay 20, 2022


Photo: Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash

It’s only been six years since the Supreme Court struck down one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation at that time. In June 2016, the Court ruled 5–3 in favor of abortion clinics in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Yet today, when Texas has outlawed abortion after five to six weeks of pregnancy — before most women know they’re even pregnant — that previous law seems almost quaint. And now with Roe poised to fall altogether, Texas is one of the 13 states with trigger laws that would automatically ban abortion if the Supreme Court violates precedent and overturns the 1973 landmark case.

It seems appropriate, then, to revisit what I wrote in the wake of the Whole Women’s Health decision — that it was a win for women’s health. The rest of this article is a tweaked republication of an article I wrote in 2016, with updated numbers from data that’s become available since then. Sadly, the updated data doesn’t improve the big picture if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Pregnancy and childbirth has become more dangerous while abortion has become safer since I first published the article that begins below.

When politicians, advocates, and others debate abortion and related restrictions, the conversation often focuses on the philosophical political arguments: the right of an embryo or fetus to possibly reach full term versus the right of a woman to have full autonomy over her body. But laws restricting abortion rights tend to hide under a guise of protecting women’s health, a politically more palatable motivation for the them.

That was the case with the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill, known as HB 2, that the Supreme Court struck down 5–3 today. It was the same bill that introduced the rest of the U.S. to Wendy Davis, the Texas senator who staged an 11-hour filibuster which, with the help of fellow Democrats using parliamentary procedures, prevented the law’s initial passage until Texas Governor Rick Perry called a special session which allowed its passage.

The bill required all abortions to be done in ambulatory surgical centers, basically mini hospitals that must have corridors wide enough for two gurneys to pass…



Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle is a science journalist, public speaker, and author of Vaccination Investigation and The Informed Parent. Follow her at @tarahaelle.

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