Texas taxpayers may be forced to pay up to $4.5 million to pro-abortion attorneys who succeeded in convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Texas abortion clinic regulations this summer.
On Friday, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a request for the state to pay $4.5 million for its attorneys’ fees and other expenses related to the lawsuit, WFAA News 8 reports.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Texas law in June in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The law protected women’s health and saved thousands of unborn babies’ lives by requiring abortion clinics to meet the kinds of medical and safety standards that legitimate medical centers meet.
Here’s more from the report:
Because the abortion providers were the prevailing party in the federal lawsuit, the court has allowed the Center for Reproductive Rights and other attorneys who worked on the case to ask to recover costs for the lawsuit. The state is expected to file its response by Nov. 4, and the judge who oversaw the case — U.S. district judge Lee Yeakel — will decide if the abortion providers’ lawyers will be awarded anything. …
Texas’ legal defense of the restrictions has already cost taxpayers $1 million. The state’s legal costs associated with the case, formally known as Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, totaled $768,722. That includes salary, overhead, travel expenses and other expenses incurred by the Texas attorney general’s office.
Most of the money would go to the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion legal group based in New York, while about $111,000 would go to the O’Connell & Soifer law firm in Austin, Texas, according to The Austin Chronicle. The pro-abortion groups also asked for additional money to pay for future legal work related to the case, according to the report.
“Time and again, politicians in Texas have proven to be as reckless with taxpayer dollars as they are with the health and well-being of the people they serve,” Nancy Northup, president of the pro-abortion legal group, said in a statement. “Our nonprofit attorneys and pro bono co-counsel dedicated thousands of hours to fighting Texas’ blatantly unconstitutional law.”
It’s common practice for pro-abortion groups to request state reimbursements when they succeed in overturning pro-life laws. It is one of the reasons why many pro-life groups spend a lot of time analyzing legislation and court rulings before supporting a specific piece of legislation. Even with caution it can be difficult to tell how courts will rule on abortion legislation.
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In April, North Dakota was forced to pay an abortion clinic $245,000 after a court overturned a state law banning abortion when unborn babies have a detectable heartbeat. In September, Wisconsin taxpayers faced a $1.6 million legal bill from attorneys representing Planned Parenthood after they succeeded in challenging a law requiring abortion practitioners to have hospital admitting privileges.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-3 against the Texas pro-life law with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the decision. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Breyer. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented.
Breyer’s majority opinion for the court held that the regulations are medically unnecessary and unconstitutionally limit a woman’s right to an abortion.
At issue in the ruling were two provisions–that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and that abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital for situations of medical emergencies.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who authored the dissenting opinion, wrote, “… today’s decision creates an abortion exception to ordinary rules of res judicata, ignores compelling evidence that Texas’ law imposes no unconstitutional burden, and disregards basic principles of the severability doctrine. I write separately to emphasize how today’s decision perpetuates the Court’s habit of applying different rules to different constitutional rights— especially the putative right to abortion.”