Texas Abortion Clinics Have Time to Appeal to SCOTUS Before Closures

Abortion Restrictions Texas
El Paso Abortion Clinic. AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca

Texas abortion clinics have lost again at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. However, the Court complied with the abortion provider’s request for a ruling by June 19th so they would have time to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. July 1st is the date when the Fifth Circuit ruled that abortion providers must close their clinics.

Abortion providers in Whole Woman’s Health, et al. filed a letter stating that 11 clinics would be forced to shut down if the Court does not grant the abortion clinics’ motion to stay the Court’s June 9th opinion. The Court had ordered these parties to file a letter outlining which clinics would be “forced to close,” as the abortion providers had claimed in their motion to stay.

The Fifth Circuit upheld on June 9th strict restrictions on abortion clinic standards passed in House Bill 2 by the 2013 Texas legislature.

HB 2 was temporarily blocked by Democrat Texas Senator Wendy Davis’ 13-hour filibuster, but abortion clinics must now meet the same operating room standards as hospitals.

Abortion providers responded to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion by filing a motion to stay the ruling. Not unexpectedly, the Court has now denied this motion to stay. In denying the motion to stay, the Court has essentially rejected the same arguments made by the abortion providers previously.

Abortion clinics complained that meeting hospital standards will put them out of business because upgrades will cost millions of dollars. They claim closures of facilities will limit women, especially women in more rural areas near the border, from access to abortion providers.

In its order, the Fifth Circuit modified its June 9th ruling stating that the district court’s injunction of the ASC (Ambulatory Surgical Center) requirement as to the McAllen facility shall remain in effect until October 29, 2015, at which time the injunction shall be vacated in part.

The abortion provider parties in the lawsuit claim that prior to enactment of HB 2, Texas had 41 licensed facilities that provided abortions on a regular basis, but as of the time of trial, it had fallen to 20. They claim as of June 2015 that number is at 19.

Executor Director for Texas Alliance for Life, Joe Pojman, has responded to these arguments by stating, “We believe that women undergoing elective abortion should not be subject to a lower standard of care than anyone else would receive for comparable outpatient procedures at an ambulatory surgical center.” He continued, “These smaller abortion facilities should have raised their standard of care years ago to the level of ambulatory surgical centers.”

“Because HB 2 is a well-drafted law, we believe it has an excellent chance of being upheld by the Texas Supreme Court,” Pojman predicted.

In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to the Fifth Circuit’s ruling: “The Fifth Circuit today rightly rejected efforts to stop HB 2 from taking effect. No woman should be subjected to substandard levels of care, and this ruling means abortion clinics and doctors must meet safe, common-sense standards if they choose to operate their businesses in Texas.”

Closures of abortion facilities in Texas as a result of HB 2 have been the subject of nationwide media attention. HuffingtonPost Live, NPR, New York Times, and Rolling Stone magazine have all weighed in on the issue.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2


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