New Texas Abortion Limits Face First Lawsuit
AUSTIN (CN) - A new Texas law will shutter one-third of the state's abortion clinics and eliminate access for women in rural areas, Planned Parenthood claims in court.
Planned Parenthood and several affiliated health clinics sued Texas officials to block parts of House Bill 2, which Gov. Rick Perry signed this summer after Texas lawmakers passed it during a special legislative session.
Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis grabbed national headlines in June with an 11-hour filibuster to block a Senate version of the bill.
The bill bans abortions in Texas after 20 weeks, requires that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals, requires providers of medication-induced abortions to follow a drug regimen approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 and stipulates that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
Planned Parenthood sued to block implementation of the law's medication abortion restrictions, and the admitting-privileges mandate, both set to take effect in late October.
The organization called the rules for drug-induced abortions in Texas "outdated."
"If the medication abortion restrictions and admitting privileges requirement are allowed to take effect on October 29, more than one-third of the state's licensed abortion facilities will be forced to stop offering abortions altogether, eliminating services entirely in Fort Worth, Harlingen, Killeen, McAllen and Waco," according to the complaint.
"Other facilities will be forced to decrease the number of abortions they provide. Many women will be unable to obtain a medication abortion. This will be devastating for Texas women, particularly low-income women, women who are victims of rape or abuse, women who need abortions later in pregnancy, and those who live outside of major metropolitan areas."
In addition to calling the act's requirements "unwarranted and burdensome," Plannned Parenthood slammed the law as "vague and unintelligible." The group seeks an injunction to preserve the 14th Amendment rights of its clinics and patients.
Within the past two years Planned Parenthood has gone to court to block abortion laws passed by Republican-majority legislatures in Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Arizona and Texas.
In 2011, in a move aimed at directly at Planned Parenthood, the Texas Legislature excluded abortion providers and their affiliates from the Texas Women's Health Program, a program that allows women to get free, state-funded health screenings and birth control for a year.
The legislation prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pull all federal funding from the state program.
A Travis County judge found earlier this year that Planned Parenthood would not likely succeed in its challenge to that law, heeding a 5th Circuit ruling that said Texas had the "authority to subsidize speech of its choosing."