Reproductive Rights

Federal Court Upholds Texas Law Restricting Abortion Access

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals last week upheld a provision of a Texas law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The requirement is part of HB 2, which passed last summer and has already led to the closure of several Texas abortion clinics since it went into effect. The appeals court decision means that even more clinics are expected to close in the state.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

“The legislators lied when they said this law wouldn’t close clinics,” explained Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, to RH Reality Check. “This law has closed clinics. This law has denied women access to safe care. This law is now and will in the future do great damage to the health-care infrastructure in the State of Texas.”

Texas’s anti-abortion law passed last summer in a special legislative session called by Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) after Texas State Senator Wendy Davis (D) successfully led a filibuster of the bill for 12 hours.  In addition to the admitting privileges requirement, the law also bans abortion at 20 weeks, restricts medication abortion, and mandates that facilities where abortion is performed meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of several clinics and their patients, challenging the admitting privileges requirement as well as the law’s restrictions on medication abortion.  In October, federal district judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the admitting privileges requirement was unconstitutional. The Fifth Circuit almost immediately stayed Judge Yeakel’s order, allowing the law to go into effect. In its decision yesterday, the Fifth Circuit also upheld the medication abortion restrictions.

Media Resources: Center for Reproductive Rights Press Release, 3/18/14; RH Reality Check, 3/28/14; Feminist Newswire 3/6/14, 11/1/13, 10/29/13

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