Planned Parenthood Is Suing Texas Over New Abortion Restrictions
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) September 27, 2013
Long before Wendy Davis laced up her pink Mizunos and stepped onto the floor of the Texas Senate for her historic filibuster, the passage of the sweeping abortion restrictions she was fighting against was a sure thing. Equally certain was that, once those restrictions passed, they would be challenged in court.
That's what happened today, when Planned Parenthood, along with 10 other abortion providers from around the state, including Dallas' Routh Street Women's Clinic, filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Greg Abbott in federal court.
The basic argument the plaintiffs lay out is that HB 2, the abortion law signed by Governor Rick Perry on July 18, imposes "medically unwarranted and burdensome requirements" for abortions in violation of patient's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The lawsuit makes no specific mention of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, but a similar argument formed the basis for that case.
Planned Parenthood takes particular aim at two provisions of the law set to go into effect on October 29, one requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the abortion is performed, and another restricting the use of the drug mifepristone for medically induced abortions.
The former, the suit says, would force the closure of than a third of the state's abortion facilities, including the only provider in Lubbock, Waco, Killeen, Harlingen and McAllen, and all three in Fort Worth, partly because of distance, partly because of the refusal of many hospitals to grant admitting privileges to abortion providers. This despite the fact that 0.3 percent of abortion patients require hospitalization, and logic holds that they would go to whichever emergency room is nearest, not where a doctor has admitting privileges.
The latter requires a doctor to administer abortion medication and cuts the time frame during which it can be given from 63 days to 49 days after the patient's last period, again for no justifiable medical reason. Research has found that mifepristone is safe enough to be self-administered. There are almost never complications.
Of course, no one ever seriously believed that HB 2 was about ensuring patient safety. It was about closing abortion clinics, just like laws that its predecessor bills in Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, all of which have been blocked by federal judges.
The same thing will no doubt happen in Texas. The question is, what will happen when the case, or one like it, inevitably makes it to the Supreme Court?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.