Federal Court Approves Texas Law Requiring Abortion Providers to Have Hospital Privileges
A Texas anti-abortion law that has put more than a dozen clinics out of business has been upheld by a federal appeals court.
House Bill 2, adopted last year during a special legislative session, requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic where they work. Abortion rights advocates denounced the legislation, claiming the requirement was unnecessary and actually a veiled attempt to limit access to abortions. Since the law went into effect, 13 of the state’s 37 medical facilities offering abortion services have gone out of business.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights sued the state to have the law thrown out. They won their case before U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin, who concluded the admitting privilege provision had “no rational relationship to improved patient care” and did “not rationally relate to the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the unborn.”
But the state appealed the ruling to the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, where a three-judge panel unanimously overruled Yeakel.
The appellate court found the law did not pose an “undue burden” on women’s rights, despite some Texas women now being forced to make a 300-mile round trip to obtain constitutionally guaranteed medical care.
Those challenging the law say the fight is not over and that the matter will likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court, given that similar laws in Mississippi and Wisconsin are also being challenged.
“Ultimately, whether from Mississippi, Texas or Wisconsin, this is an issue that is hurtling its way toward the Supreme Court,” Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is involved in some of the lawsuits, told The New York Times.
The Mississippi case, which also could appear before the Fifth Circuit, is different from Texas’s because its law is threatening to shut down the state’s only abortion provider.
The Texas law also contains other provisions: outlawing all abortions after 20 weeks, requiring providers to follow a drug regimen many physicians consider outdated and mandating that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
To Learn More:
Court Panel Upholds Texas Law on Abortion (by Erik Eckholm, New York Times)
Fifth Circuit Upholds Texas Abortion Law (by David Lee, Courthouse News Service)
Appeals Court Upholds Texas’ Tougher Abortion Rules (by Christy Hoppe, Dallas Morning News)
Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services v. Attorney General Gregory Abbott (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals) (pdf)
Republican State Legislators Pass 40 Laws Restricting Abortion in First Half of 2013 (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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