Saturday, October 04, 2014

Most Texas Abortion Clinics Now Closed by Court

This week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction by U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel that had allowed many abortion clinics in Texas to remain operating in violation of the recently enacted state law H.B. 2.
“Texas had over forty abortion clinics prior to the enactment of H.B. 2 . . . after the ASC provision takes effect, only seven or eight clinics will remain.”
-- 5th Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson
For background, read about the new abortion clinic laws in Texas and other states, and read about the resulting drop in abortions.

UPDATE 10/14/14: Supreme Court Blocks Law, Clinics Re-open Temporarily (see article excerpts below)

UPDATE 6/10/15: Texas Law Upheld by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; on to U.S. Supreme Court

Also read Abortionists Battle to Kill Without Clinics

-- From "Most abortion clinics in Texas will be forced to close under court ruling" by Maria L. La Ganga, Los Angeles Times 10/2/14

The requirement is part of a sweeping piece of legislation called House Bill 2, which includes several measures that undermine women’s access to abortion. The mandate was struck down in late August by a federal judge [Yeakel] in Austin, who ruled that it was unconstitutional because it put an undue burden on women seeking healthcare. He put the requirement on hold while the state appealed.

The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit said the central question it considered was “whether the state has shown a likelihood of success” in fighting Yeakel’s ruling “regarding whether the ambulatory surgical center provision is unconstitutional. We conclude that it has.” The panel repeatedly criticized Yeakel’s decision as “unclear” and “confusing.”

John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, applauded the appeals court. At the same time, groups that oppose abortion have been frustrated “when laws are struck down for no apparent reason,” Seago said. “Any further clarity the court would like to provide would be welcome.”

A spokeswoman for Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott praised the result. Lauren Bean said in a statement, “This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Texas Women Forced to Reassess After New Ruling on Abortions" by Laura Tillman and Erik Eckholm, New York Times 10/3/14

The appeals panel overturned a lower court’s determination that the Texas law, imposing hospital-style surgery center standards on all abortion clinics and requiring clinic doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, was unjustified medically and an unconstitutional burden on abortion rights.

Ms. Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal group that argued against the Texas law in court, said that the Supreme Court would have to clarify what constitutes an “undue burden.” The issue has come up not only in the Texas ruling but also, with contradictory findings, in recent decisions around the country concerning laws limiting medication abortions and laws requiring doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges.

Denise Burke, vice president for legal affairs of Americans United for Life, said the appeals court decision on the Texas law was a legal endorsement of a major recent push by anti-abortion groups, arguing that “abortion harms women, and states may regulate in the interest of women’s health.”

She said she was confident that the Supreme Court would agree that rules to protect health would not be considered as illegal burdens.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "13 abortion facilities closed today, as federal court upholds Texas law" by Ben Johnson, 10/3/14

Before H.B. 2 passed last year, Texas had more than 40 abortion facilities. But only a handful of abortion facilities meet the new standards, and all are located in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. Abortion advocates say they lack the capacity to serve the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in the nation's second-largest state. The [5th Circuit] panel ruled that “women from McAllen have been traveling outside their city for nearly a year, and Plaintiffs made no showing that clinics in San Antonio (or any other city) have been deluged.”

The facilities may choose to appeal the ruling, but judges made it clear the state was likely to prevail.

Gov. Rick Perry signed H.B. 2 into law last July. It banned abortions after 20 weeks on the grounds of fetal pain, required abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their office, and made all abortion facilities meet ASC standards.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had struck down part of the law on August 29, arguing that forcing women to drive 150 miles for an abortion constituted an “undue burden” to women, thus violating the Supreme Court's 1992 Casey ruling. He also scaled back the admitting privileges mandate.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE 10/14/14: From "Supreme Court blocks Texas abortion law" by Robert Barnes, Washington Post

The court’s brief order did not say why it was disagreeing with the appeals court. Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have allowed the law to go into effect while abortion providers pursued their claims that it is unconstitutional.

The order was unsigned, but that apparently meant Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the other five justices — Anthony M. Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — were in agreement.

The court’s decision is not a judgment on the Texas law, but whether the law’s new restrictions should be delayed while the legal battle continued.

The Supreme Court in November [2013] agreed 5 to 4 that the admitting-privileges part of the law could be implemented, resulting in the loss of about half of the state’s 41 clinic providers. After the recent appeals court ruling, the number shrank to seven, the [abortion] providers said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Abortion Clinic Closings Set Record; Abortionists Admit Defeat and are now Forced to Risk All in Supreme Court