The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a ruling upholding the Texas law Wendy Davis opposed that was responsible for closing abortion clinics in the Lone Star State.
In November, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia issued an opinion indicating the Supreme Court would not yet get involved in a case that has abortion facilities there appealing a law that has closed numerous abortion clinics that can’t protect women’s health.
Before that, in a big victory for pro-life advocates, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western District Court in Austin and restored key portions of a pro-life law in Texas that will ultimately stop abortions. Abortion clinics appealed that decision to the Supreme Court and Justice Scalia issued a ruling saying the high court would not stop the law while the case continued.
A panel of three judges in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit released its ruling upholding HB2, Texas’ Pro-Life law, which took full effect in October of last year. The opinion affirms the constitutionality of the legislation passed last summer and rejects Planned Parenthood’s argument that HB2 places an “undue burden” upon abortionists, abortion facilities, and women seeking abortion.
The court upheld sections of the law that require abortionists hold admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and that the dangerous RU-486 abortion drug be administered according to FDA procedure. The judges wrote,
“The district court held that parts of both provisions were unconstitutional and granted, in substantial part, the requested injunctive relief. A motions panel of this court granted a stay pending appeal, and the Supreme Court upheld the stay. We conclude that both of the challenged provisions are constitutional and, therefore, reverse and render judgment, with one exception, for the State.”
There is a minor caveat to the ruling, abortionists who have applied for admitting privileges prior to the law going into effect, but have not yet received a reply from local hospitals may continue to commit abortions until their applications for privileges are officially denied.
The court asserted that higher standards for an abortionist are, in fact, justified,
“During these proceedings, Planned Parenthood conceded that at least 210 women in Texas annually must be hospitalized after seeking an abortion. Witnesses on both sides further testified that some of the women who are hospitalized after an abortion have complications that require an Ob/Gyn specialist’s treatment.”
This is the third time recently that this Court of Appeals has upheld Pro-Life policies attacked by abortion advocates. The same court upheld Texas’ 2011 Sonogram Law and a policy that kept the abortion business Planned Parenthood out of the taxpayer-funded Women’s Health Program.
The decision on House Bill 2 has been expected ever since the New Orleans hearing in January where the three-judge panel heard Planned Parenthood’s attempts to convince them that such measures provide an undue burden to women seeking abortion. However, these claims made in court apparently had little effect on the judges, who seem to be unimpressed with the exaggerated nature of the lawsuit and that Planned Parenthood requested the Supreme Court’s precedent establishing the meaning of “undue burden” be overlooked by the Fifth Circuit Court.
Planned Parenthood may have jumped the gun in making such broad and overarching undue burden arguments. The 5th Circuit justices wrote in their opinion; Planned Parenthood’s case required evidence that could only be provided after the law has been sufficiently applied. Namely, Planned Parenthood would have to present the court with a sufficient number of documented cases in which the provisions of HB2 caused a severe impediment to a woman seeking an abortion.
“Women deserve real doctors, not transient abortionists who have no connection to their patients or their communities. The health and safety of women is more important than an abortionist’s bottom line–including the bottom line of Planned Parenthood, which is the nation’s largest abortion seller,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “Planned Parenthood’s opposition to these basic health requirements is simply additional evidence that they care more about profit than about what’s best for women.”
A district court had previously struck down the two provisions in Planned Parenthood of Texas Surgical Health Services v. Abbott while upholding the remainder of the larger law of which they were a part. Planned Parenthood did not challenge the law’s prohibition on abortions that take place at 20 weeks or later, a provision based on evidence that demonstrates the baby can feel pain at that stage.
The 5th Circuit concluded that “the State acted within its prerogative to regulate the medical profession by heeding these patient-centered concerns and requiring abortion practitioners to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.”
“Against Planned Parenthood’s claims that these women can be adequately treated without the admitting-privileges requirement, the State showed that many hospitals lack an Ob/Gyn on call for emergencies,” the opinion explains. “Requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges would also promote the continuity of care in all cases, reducing the risk of injury caused by miscommunication and misdiagnosis when a patient is transferred from one health care provider to another.”
“People may hold different views about abortion, but everyone can agree that Planned Parenthood should put the safety and health of women first,” Aden said. “Women’s lives should never play second fiddle to Planned Parenthood’s profit margin.”
Texas legislated in part because Planned Parenthood’s off-label usage of the drug led to numerous deaths and injuries to women.