On June 29, 2020, the Supreme Court held that a Louisiana law which significantly restricted access to abortion is unconstitutional.


The case, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo challenged a Louisiana law, the Louisiana Unsafe Abortion Protection Act (“Act 620”), which requires physicians who perform abortions in the state to have “active admitting privileges” at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where the doctor provides abortions.  The Supreme Court held that this law created unnecessary health regulations that presented a substantial obstacle to women seeking abortions and imposed an undue burden on the right to choose.  The Court found that if the law had been allowed to go into effect, it would have left Louisiana with just one clinic and one provider for the 1 million women of reproductive age in the state.  The Court also held that laws requiring admitting privileges do not provide any additional health or safety benefits for women seeking abortions.


Interestingly, Chief Justice Roberts, who voted to uphold a nearly identical law four years ago, decided to rule that the Louisiana law is unconstitutional.  In the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court found that a Texas law also requiring providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges in order to perform abortions was an unnecessary regulation that would not protect women’s health.  The burden that this regulation would put on women outweighed any benefit.  Although Chief Justice Roberts did not vote with the majority to strike down the Texas law in Whole Women’s Health, this week he reasoned that the 2016 case established a legal precedent that must be honored in this case, under a principle known as stare decisis.


“The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike,” Roberts wrote in concurring with the decision. “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.”


Access to abortion remains in jeopardy, and it is likely that the Supreme Court will continue to take up abortion cases over the next several years.  We are grateful for this decision and will continue to advocate for access to all types of health care for women.

NATIONAL WOMEN'S HEALTH UPDATES – Published in February 2020 WHEALTH e-newsletter


January 22 marked the 47 year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.  This year is especially poignant, as women’s health is rapidly being jeopardized, especially when it comes to access to safe, legal abortions.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument in June Medical Services v. Gee, a challenge to a Louisiana law that requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital.  This case is a reprise of another case decided in 2016, when the Supreme Court struck down a nearly identical Texas law as unconstitutional, in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt.  In that case, the Court found the law did not improve women’s health and instead imposed an undue burden on the constitutional right to access abortion.  Why would Louisiana pass a law that has already been deemed unconstitutional?  Because Justice Anthony Kennedy retired after Whole Women’s Health, and Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment has cemented a more conservative Supreme Court.

Notably, in January, more than 200 Republican members of the House and Senate filed a brief urging the justices to use June Medical Services to overturn Roe once and for all.  Nevertheless, multiple briefs have been filed in support of abortion access.  A decision is expected by the end of June.


In January, the Supreme Court announced that it would revisit whether employers must guarantee free birth control coverage for their employees.  This marks the third time that the Supreme Court is taking up this provision.  Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide birth control with no co-pays and no deductibles in all employee health plans.  This is part of the women’s preventive care guidelines (see below).  Houses of worship, including churches, temples and mosques, were always exempt from the requirement.  However, nonprofit groups like schools and hospitals that are affiliated with religious organizations were not.

In 2014, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, the Supreme Court ruled that requiring family-owned corporations to pay for insurance coverage for contraception violated a federal law protecting religious liberty. 

In 2017, the Trump administration issued new rules that significantly expanded the number of workplaces that could opt out of the contraceptive coverage requirement.  In July 2019, a federal court concluded that the administration did not follow the appropriate procedures when it issued the new rules, and that federal law does not authorize the broad exemptions described by the Trump administration’s rule.  The new rules were prevented from continuing, and now the Supreme Court will decide how broadly the contraceptive exemption applies to employers.


The Title X Family Planning Program is a federal grant program for low-income patients to receive family planning and reproductive health services.  New regulations by the current administration that took in effect in July 2019 place unnecessary restrictions on the program, and undermine the quality of care women receive.  These new rules prohibit Title X recipients from providing referrals for abortion care, even when requested by the patient, and eliminate the requirement for nondirective pregnancy options counseling that also includes discussion of abortion as an option.  Beginning in March, Title X-funded centers must establish and maintain physical separation from the provision of abortion.  As a result of these restrictions, in California alone more than 50% of Title X clinics have dropped out of the program.

Furthermore, the Trump regulations no longer require Title X grantees to offer all FDA-approved methods of birth control to their patients (as was required before); instead, Title X grantees are now required to provide only one FDA-approved method, and that method can be natural family planning (also known as the rhythm method or withdrawal).  This means patients will experience unnecessary delays when seeking more effective methods of birth control.

The State of California and Essential Access Health, California’s largest administrator of Title X funding, have sued the administration over these regulations.  A hearing is scheduled on February 20th in Federal District Court, where a motion for summary judgment has been made, which means that there is a request for the court to rule that the administration has no case, and the new regulations should not be allowed to continue.  The OCWHP will continue to monitor the legal progress of the case and provide updates.


Under the Affordable Care Act, Women's Preventive Services are required to be covered by all insurers with no co-pay and no deductible.  In January, the federal government announced that it is adding screening for anxiety as one of these required covered services under the Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines.  There are 11 other services already included under these guidelines:
    • Breast Cancer Screening for Average Risk Women
    • Breastfeeding Services and Supplies
    • Screening for Cervical Cancer
    • Contraception
    • Screening for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
    • Screening for Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection
    • Screening for Interpersonal and Domestic Violence
    • Counseling for Sexually Transmitted Infections
    • Well-Woman Preventive Visits
    • Screening for Diabetes Mellitus after Pregnancy
    • Screening for Urinary Incontinence


On March 4, 2019 the Trump administration released final regulations for Title X, the federal family planning program that has provided critical family planning services for low-income women, as well as preventive care and STI screening and treatment. That same day, California's Attorney General and Essential Access Health (administrator of the Title X program in California) filed lawsuits to block implementation of these regulations.

The new rules are harmful to women’s health and jeopardize access to health care. They prohibit federal Title X funds from going to any family planning site that also provides abortion services. Alternatively the site must completely separate, both physically and financially, its abortion-related activities from the rest of the site even though no federal dollars are spent on abortion services. The impact of this is to significantly reduce the network of family planning providers and resources available to serve low-income and uninsured people under the program.

The rules also put a gag rule into effect, which forbids sites from providing pregnant patients with referrals for abortions. This rule interferes with the patient-provider relationship by prohibiting providers from discussing certain topics with their patients.

The Orange County Women's Health Project opposes these regulations and supports the lawsuits to protect access to quality, comprehensive, and unbiased reproductive health care and critical preventive services. 

For more information on the impact of the new regulations and the current legal challenges, please click here.


The Trump Adminstration's proposed "public charge" regulations are an attack on women & families. These regulations threaten women's health & other basic needs for millions. See the OCWHP's comments here.


The Orange County Women’s Health Project is opposed to two recent rules by the Trump Administration that jeopardize women’s access to affordable, comprehensive contraception.  On November 7, the Trump administration issued final rules that allow many employers to deny women coverage of birth control on religious or moral grounds.  To read our full position statement, click here.


The FDA approved Gardasil, an HPV vaccine, to be used for women and men up to age 45.  Previously, Gardasil  had been approved only for ages 9 through 26.  The OCWHP applauds this new approval, which will allow more people to be protected against HPV and related cancers, including most forms of cervical cancer, as well as throat, anal, vaginal and penile cancers.  For more information, click here.


In May, the Trump administration proposed new rules regarding the federal Title X Family Planning Program that would drastically affect women’s access to family planning services and health care.


For decades, the Title X Family Planning Program has been an essential element of women’s access to health care, helping women have healthier families and lead healthier lives.

The federal program provides comprehensive family planning care for women and ensures high-quality health care regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, or ability to cover out-of-pocket costs associated with contraception services.

It is the only federal domestic program focused solely on providing women with critical reproductive health services related to family planning and contraception, including physical exams, prescriptions, laboratory exams, contraceptive supplies, and referrals when medically needed. The program also offers educational and counseling services for both providers and patients.

Title X clinics serve about 4 million individuals each year and fill a void in access to family planning services that would otherwise not be available to many women.



The new rule takes away funding for family planning services from providers who also perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. Even though no federal funding is given for any type of abortion services, these providers would now be denied funding for other types of care. Patients who visit these providers would lose access to essential family planning and reproductive care. 


The new rule also prohibits doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers and clinics that receive federal Title X funds from referring women to clinics that provide abortions, even if they ask. This means that even providers who don’t perform abortions would still be barred from talking about the procedure with their patients. This would put doctors and other health care workers in a difficult position: If a patient with an unplanned pregnancy asks about her options, they would have to omit abortion from the list. If a patient asks specifically whether she can get an abortion, they would have to say no or refuse to discuss the issue.


Title X funding is mandated to focus on patients who are low-income or uninsured, or otherwise have difficulty getting health care. Two-thirds of patients who get care through the program live at or below the federal poverty line. If abortion providers were excluded from Title X, other Title X providers would have to increase their caseloads, which may not be feasible. This means many patients will simply go without contraceptive care, STI screenings, and other crucial health services.


On Monday July 9th, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court. If his nomination is confirmed by the Senate, he will threaten women’s health in multiple and significant ways. Therefore, we urge you to contact your senators to vote NO on his confirmation. 

Affordable Care Act 
The Affordable Care Act continues to be challenged in courts across the country, provision by provision, and its remaining protections could end up before the Supreme Court again. In particular, Kavanaugh could rule that insurers are allowed to refuse insurance to individuals with pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA protections, having had a C-section or being a victim of domestic violence were considered pre-existing conditions in some states, which provided a basis to deny insurance coverage to women. 

The Affordable Care Act guarantees that all women receive contraception with no co-pay and no deductibles. Though some organizations who disagree with this practice based on religious grounds are exempt from this requirement, Kavanaugh could go even further to completely overturn the coverage mandate, which has provided access to birth control for millions of women who could not afford it before the ACA. In a 2015 case, while serving as a Justice on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, Kavanaugh disagreed with a decision to uphold the requirements of the contraceptive mandate of the ACA. 

Roe v. Wade 
In 1973, the Supreme Court recognized a women’s constitutional right to an abortion. Kavanaugh could overturn this decision that has been in place for 45 years. He has publicly praised former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s opposition to Roe v. Wade. If the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, women would immediately lose access to legal abortion in 22 states, and likely lose access in another 8 states. As was the case before Roe v. Wade, women will seek out dangerous alternatives endangering their health and their future. 

We urge you to contact your senators to vote NO on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

- Call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 

- Send an email to Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris. Copy and paste the template below into your email.

Click here to locate other Senators and their contact information. 

Click here to locate your Representative and their contact information. Even though they are not voting, they are making statements and still need to hear from you.

Email template:

Dear Senator ____, 

I am writing to urge that you vote NO on appointing Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. His appointment will jeopardize women’s health and eliminate decades of progress made towards improving the health and welfare of women in Orange County and across the country. 

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Roe v. Wade will likely be overturned. Women will no longer have access to all of the health care they need, when they need it. They will not be able to make their own decisions about their own bodies. Many women may seek out dangerous alternatives if they do have legal access to abortions. 

If the Affordable Care Act comes before the Supreme Court again, Kavanaugh may rule to eliminate important protections currently included in the ACA – such as allowing insurance companies to once again deny health insurance coverage based on a person having a pre-existing condition. Before the ACA, women who have had C-sections or were victims of domestic violence were viewed as pre-existing conditions in some states, and this served as a basis to deny health insurance. Without access to affordable health care, women will not be able to live healthy, productive lives. 

Finally, Kavanaugh could completely overturn the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate, which has provided access to birth control for millions of women with no co-pays and no deductibles. Only when a woman can access affordable birth control can she determine whether and when to have children, and only then can she fully participate in civic, educational, economic, and community life. 

We must not allow someone to sit on the Supreme Court who is likely to put women’s access to affordable, quality health care health and women’s ability to make decisions about their own health as such risk. Please vote no on Kavanaugh! 




The Orange County Women's Health Project has developed a Position Statement that explains why we support the Affordable Care Act in greater detail.