What Happens in Abortion Cases Stays in Abortion Cases

Res judicata is the legal rule that prevents plaintiffs from relitigating a case after suffering an adverse judgment. This common-sense principle prevents endless bouts of litigation in which the same unsatisfied plaintiffs repeatedly sue the same defendants until they get the outcome that they want.

Ordinarily, this rule would have eliminated many of the Hellerstedt plaintiffs’ claims. For example, the plaintiffs had previously brought an unsuccessful statewide challenge to HB2’s requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Under normal circumstances, they could not bring a second identical challenge to that provision. Sadly, abortion cases do not qualify as “normal circumstances.”

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