The United States Supreme Court decided on Friday that it will hear a lawsuit claiming that a Texas law unconstitutionally limits access to abortion in the state. The court granted certiorari review of a challenge to provisions of Texas House Bill 2 (HB 2).
Former Governor Rick Perry signed HB 2 into law in July of 2013. The questions before the U.S. Supreme Court pertain to two provisions that Texas lawmakers designed to improve the quality of care for women and to improve the sanitary conditions of surgical centers for used to provide women’s health services.
One of the provision being challenged requires that abortion facilities comply with the standards already in place for ambulatory surgical centers. A second provision requires practitioners who perform abortions at the clinics to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility.
Medical experts have previously testified that the requirements are reasonable and effective measures intended to improve the standard of care for women undergoing abortion procedures and to ensure women’s health and safety. Opponents challenging the Texas law argue that the measures are designed to limit abortions by limiting women’s access to abortion clinics.
“Currently, of the 19 abortion facilities operating in Texas, nine meet the safety standards of HB 2,” said Joe Pojeman, Ph.D., Texas Alliance for Life’s executive director, in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “They are located in Austin, Dallas (2), Fort Worth, Houston (2), and San Antonio (3). Ten abortion facilities are unwilling or are unable to meet the HB 2 safety standards, but all are located near other facilities that would not be affected by HB 2.”
“While not our preference, the reality is that abortion will remain readily available in Texas and will continue to occur tens of thousands of times a year even if the Supreme Court allows HB 2 to go into effect.”
Breitbart Texas reported in late June that the Supreme Court ruled to stay the order of a lower federal court requiring abortion clinics in Texas to close or remain closed. The order from the court in Whole Woman’s Health et al. v. Cole, Comm’r, Texas DHS, et al. maintained the status quo while the court decided whether to decide the case on the merits on any appeal.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Justice Samuel Alito voted to deny the application for stay.
Breitbart Texas reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld on June 9th the strict abortion clinic restrictions passed into law by the Texas legislature. These are the same restrictions that Democrat Texas Senator Wendy Davis temporarily blocked during her 13-hour filibuster.
Under the law abortion clinics must now meet the same operating-room standards as hospitals. The Fifth Circuit had ordered that enumerated abortion clinics must be shut down by July 1st.
Pro-abortion groups call the strict legislation in Texas “sham laws” and complain they “are shutting clinics down and placing countless women at risk of serious harm,” as reported by Breitbart News.
The Supreme Court ruled that if the court declined to hear the appeal, the stay granted would terminate automatically.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to the news that the nation’s highest court would hear the case. Breitbart Texas obtained a statement released by Paxton saying, “The common-sense measures Texas has put in place elevate the standard of care and protect the health of Texas women. The state has wide discretion to pass laws ensuring Texas women are not subject to substandard conditions at abortion facilities. The advancement of the abortion industry’s bottom line shouldn’t take precedent over women’s health, and we look forward to demonstrating the validity of these important health and safety requirements in Court.”
This article has been updated with additional information.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as an associate judge and prosecutor. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2