2017 Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report

CARRYING ON A GRANDMOTHER’S LEGACY When MoFo partner Alex Lawrence was a child, he watched his grandmother, a trial attorney, defend a Tennessee abortion clinic. Today, he’s following in her footsteps all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas law designed to burden the state’s abortion clinics with medically unnecessary restrictions and thus shut them down. This historic decision marks the most significant abortion-related ruling from the Court in more than two decades and reaffirms a woman’s constitutional right to access legal abortion. One of the co-counsel on the case was MoFo partner J. Alexander Lawrence. Alex led the MoFo team that, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, challenged the constitutionality of the Texas law. At issue in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt were provisions of a Texas statute that required clinics to meet the same building specifications as ambulatory surgical centers and ordered doctors performing abortions at these clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Together, these restrictions would have closed down all but nine or 10 abortion clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age and left more than 500 miles between San Antonio and the New Mexico border without a single clinic. “Laws like this are designed to drive up costs, with no medical benefit, and place an undue burden on women’s access to abortion,” Alex explains. “Thousands of women a year, especially those of limited economic means, would have been impacted.” 13 | Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report