An appeals court today told Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott that he can’t enforce a pro-life law credited with closing multiple abortion clinics and cutting abortions 13 percent, saving an estimated 9,900 babies from abortion.
Abbott filed an emergency request with a federal appeals court to uphold the pro-life law after a judge blocked it.
The legislation, House Bill 2 (HB2), requires abortion facilities to meet the same safety standards of other Ambulatory Surgical Centers in the state, ensures that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and bans painful late abortions on fully formed babies. The admitting privileges portion of the law was the portion responsible for closing abortion clinics and, because so many shut down or stopped doing abortions, Judge Lee Yeakel claimed that constituted an undue burden on women.
But, today, the appeals court rejected the request to enforce the law — settling instead on scheduling a hearing for the matter.
The move almost certainly means that a federal judge’s decision declaring the provision unconstitutional will remain in effect at least through next week, saving most abortion facilities in the state from planned closures.
The provision, which requires abortion facilities to comply with the standards of hospital-style surgical centers, was scheduled to take effect Monday and would have forced all but seven facilities to close. Yeakel blocked its implementation last Friday, saying it would so difficult for providers to comply with the law that it would reduce access enough to make it unconstitutionally difficult for Texas women to obtain the procedure.
Abbott on Sunday filed an emergency motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, asking for permission to enforce the law as the legal battle continues. Abbott said Yeakel had ignored binding in his decision.
The order set arguments on the motion for 10 a.m. next Friday.
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. Pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the omnibus HB 2 bill into law in July 2013.
Abbott criticized Yeakel in his motion to the appellate court, saying the district judge “failed even to mention (much less follow) precedent” from the appellate court and U.S. Supreme Court. Abbott asked for a response from the appeals court by Friday and he said he thinks it will overturn the judge’s decision.
In fact, in March, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling upholding the Texas law Wendy Davis opposed that was responsible for closing abortion clinics in the Lone Star State. 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 their decision, the appeals 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.”
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.
That kicked the lawsuit abortion advocates filed against the law back to Judge Yeakel, who ruled on the admitting privileges portion of the law and blocked it from going into effect as planned next week.
Although pro-life advocates hailed the law as a decision for women’s health, by ensuring abortion practitioner hold the same admitting privileges at local hospitals as legitimate doctors do, that shut down or temporarily closed abortion doctors who could not meet that standard.
When the panel reviewed the bill, they found 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. The state also found that it would be safer for patients to drive further to receive an abortion at a surgical facility with a credentialed and privileged physician than to seek an abortion at a nearby, substandard clinic. The bottom line is women deserve better than substandard care.
Additionally the opinion written by Judge Edith Jones explained why admitting privileges are necessary. She said, “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.”
Judge Jones also noted that Planned Parenthood conceded that at least 210 women in Texas annually must be hospitalized after seeking an abortion.
Abortion is not a safe medical procedure.
Although abortion proponents argue that having an abortion is like having a tooth extracted, forty-two years of choice has not served women well. From botched abortions and injured women, to decades of psychological pain, infertility, and higher chances of developing breast cancer, women deserve to know the truth about the so-called “five-minute, painless” abortion.
This legislation acknowledges the fact that abortion hurts women and mandates that the state implements measures to ensure that women are given the highest standard of care possible. This is especially necessary in scenarios where women experience complications from abortion, such as hemorrhage, uterine perforation, or infection from an incomplete abortion. In the past, the delay in care has caused women unnecessary trauma, injury, and even death.
For example, a Chicago woman died at a Planned Parenthood facility after a botched second trimester abortion because she did not receive immediate care after an abortionist perforated her uterus.