The aftermath of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling last week reinstating the requirement that doctors performing abortions in Texas have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic was swift and sweeping. By the next morning, a third of the state's abortion clinics had closed or stopped performing the procedure.
That much was predictable. So was this morning's announcement by Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards.
"We're asking the Supreme Court to stop Texas' dangerous and extreme law from taking effect because your rights -- your very ability to make your own medical decisions -- should not depend on your ZIP code," she said in a news release.
Specifically, Planned Parenthood and its co-plaintiff, the Center for Reproductive Rights, have filed an emergency application asking the nation's highest court to stay the implementation of the Fifth Circuit's ruling. (Their other option was to appeal for an en banc hearing in front of the entire 5th Circuit, rather than the three-judge panel, but they apparently didn't like their chances.)
In order to prevail, Planned Parenthood and CRR will have to clear a couple of hurdles. Under Supreme Court rules, their application for emergency review has to go through Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch abortion opponent who oversees the 5th Circuit. Scalia can dismiss or otherwise act on it by himself, or he can refer it to the full court, though Planned Parenthood would be able to appeal a dismissal with a justice of their choice.
In order to grant a stay, there has to be a good chance that the court will agree to review the case, that a majority of justices will overturn the lower court's ruling, and that the appellant will be irreparably harmed if no stay is granted.
That first check box is all but guaranteed. As Guttmacher Institute policy analyst Elizabeth Nash told USA Today last week, the fact that the 5th Circuit allowed Texas' law to be implemented, which was not the case when similar measures were challenged in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Alabama and Mississippi, virtually guarantees it.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.