The two sides arguing a blockbuster Supreme Court abortion case will walk into the courtroom Wednesday knowing that the debate will have the potential to shape a woman’s access to the procedure for a generation or longer. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia almost guarantees that conservatives will not be able to issue a majority opinion that would have given states nationwide the freedom to restrict abortion as they pleased -- as was the fear of abortion rights proponents when the court accepted the case.
In the case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, pro-choice forces are asking the court to strike down a Texas law mandating myriad restrictions that have a closed a large swath of its clinics can still score a victory by winning over Justice Anthony Kennedy to their side and stemming the tide of abortion restrictions passed in red states in recent years.
The lack of Scalia's ninth vote -- one that certainly would have favored the law’s defenders -- blunts the potential impact of even an outcome that would amount to a loss for abortion rights activists.
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