In the News

Court Upholds Key Part of Texas Abortion Law

Thursday, June 11, 2015
Angel Wallace
Press Release


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The decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes in a lawsuit challenging some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, including requirements that all abortion-providing health clinics employ hospital-level operating standards. “This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women”, Abbott says in a statement.

The new decision on Texas’s 2013 abortion law was a final ruling mostly upholding two key provisions of that law, and it differed in significant respects from the way the Supreme Court reacted to the same measure, in a temporary order on the Texas law last October.

“Once again, women across the state of Texas face the near total elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights”, Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

The rules mandate that abortion clinics be constructed to meet the very rigorous standards required of ambulatory surgical centers.

A different 5th Circuit panel had previously ruled that Mississippi couldn’t enforce its admitting privileges law because enforcement would cause the state’s only abortion clinic to close.

The ruling by the Fifth Circuit Appeals Court could prompt the plaintiffs – several women’s health clinics, a doctor, and their patients – to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The court agreed to Planned Parenthood’s request to waive that requirement for a clinic in McAllen operated by Whole Women’s Health, on the grounds that in the overwhelmingly Catholic Rio Grande Valley, hospitals are unlikely to offer admitting privleges to a physician which performs procedures that the Catholic Church has said are sinful.

Texas is a state with 27 million people and for that amount of population, there will be only 7 abortion clinics open. The clinics may be forced to close within a month if the Texas law is allowed to take effect.

The court overturned large parts of an August decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who said the ambulatory center requirement was unjust and had no compelling public health interest.

The El Paso clinic was not exempted from the new law because, the Fifth Circuit found, about half of the women in that community who have sought abortions have traveled twelve miles away to a clinic in Santa Teresa, in New Mexico, across the state boundary. When signing the abortion restrictions into law then-Governor Rick Perry called himself a “staunch defender of life in Texas”.

There was, however, an exception for one service in McAllen, Texas, stating that that it was the only one abortion facility in the said area.

The number of abortion clinics in Texas is on decline from 40 clinics in 2012 to now about 17.

“Where we go from here, is absolutely the U.S. Supreme Court”, says Ana DeFrates, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health. The ruling was given by a three-judge panel. “There is no right to an unsafe abortion and for abortion advocates to promote a lower standard of care for women just to ensure the sacred cow of abortion remains intact is morally indefensible”.