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Waiting for High Court After Its Stay of Texas Anti-Abortion Provisions

This post is cross-posted from ACSLaw's blog

On Monday, the Supreme Court stayed enforcement of key provisions of HB2—Texas’ sweeping anti-abortion law—pending the Court’s decision whether to hear an appeal in the case. Only 9 abortion clinics would have remained open in the state had the law gone into effect leaving over 1.3 million women of reproductive age [PDF] more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion clinic.

The Fifth Circuits Unsound Reasoning Read more »

The Fifth Circuit Grants Texan Politicians' Wish

In June 2013, as I was bracing myself for my first year of law school, Wendy Davis’ famous filibuster made headline news. At the time, I was unaware of Texas’ anti-abortion bill (H.B. 2) and its devastating impact. H.B. 2 was specifically designed to shut down almost all abortion clinics in Texas. Earlier this week the Fifth Circuit upheld two dangerous provisions in H.B. 2, thereby endangering the health and safety of Texas women.

Abortion is Safe, These Requirements Are Unnecessary  

H.B. 2 mandates that physicians performing abortions have admitting privileges with a local hospital despite the fact that abortion is an extremely safe procedure throughout pregnancy. The bill also requires that all clinics providing abortion comply with expensive and unnecessary building standards, such as hall width and parking lot design. Neither provision promotes patient safety. Instead, they impose arbitrary and often impossible to meet standards so that clinics will be forced to close their doors. In fact, H.B. 2 was opposed by major medical groups. Read more »

Texas Politicians Target Neglected Teens

I grew up in a small Texas town of about 7,000 people, 30 miles from the closest city. There was no public transportation and, really, no way for a teenager without a car to get around except to rely on parents and friends. The courthouse was in the next town over. Some of my high school classmates lived an hour or more away—on ranches and farms and in houses and trailers down country roads with miles between neighbors or in little communities of less than 200 people that couldn’t even support a gas station. Getting into town from these places could be an ordeal, getting into the city to see an abortion provider, near impossible.

So trust me when I tell you that Texas HB 3994 puts in place insurmountable barriers for many Texas adolescents seeking an abortion. Last Friday, this dangerous and extreme bill passed its last hurdle before heading to the governor’s desk . Once it becomes law, it will threaten the safety and health of Texas adolescents. Read more »

Working for a "Shift" on Abortion Stigma in Texas

As many of you know, due to several extreme anti-abortion bills, over half the abortion clinics in Texas have been forced to close. Amy Hagstrom Miller, who led the fight against the Texas laws, is still fighting. She has just launched a new non-profit called Shift, because, as she says, she is “so over” abortion stigma.

Amy is the founder of Whole Women’s Health, a group of feminist clinics that provides holistic health care for women — including abortion. Whole Women’s Health was founded in Texas, and for the past few decades Amy has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s health and constitutional rights in that state. Read more »

Texas Considers a Bill Banning Insurance Coverage of Abortion

Texans are a competitive group, but lately Texas politicians are seeking a record no one should want—the worst state for women. Right now, Texas is ranked among the six worst states for women but if Texas politicians have their way, it may soon be the worst. Thanks to budget cuts and abortion restrictions, Texans already have a hard time accessing reproductive health care—from cervical cancer screenings to abortion. Now, the Texas House is set to vote on SB 575, an extreme coverage ban that would prevent all private insurance plans in the state from providing coverage of abortion as part of a comprehensive health plan. If this bill passes it will make it even harder for women in Texas to get an abortion.

Imposing Financial Barriers that Endanger Women’s Health

Currently, insurance companies in Texas can cover abortion as part of a comprehensive insurance plan. In the absence of any ban, most private plans do provide coverage. But SB 575 will take that coverage away from many women and leave them to shoulder the cost of abortion alone. Read more »

Texas Activist Speaks About Proposed Abortion Restrictions

In Texas, a new bill would make it even harder for pregnant minors to get an abortion by adding extra barriers to an already burdensome process. In the following blog post, Emily Rooke-Ley from Jane's Due Process, an organization that provides legal representation to  pregnant minors in Texas, tells us first-hand how these unnecessary and dangerous hoops would harm Texas adolescents:

Texas Legislators Are Putting Pregnant Teens in Harm's Way

by Emily Rooke-Ley, cross-posted from RH Reality Check

I remember my first time answering the hotline for Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation for pregnant minors in Texas. Holding back tears, I listened anxiously to a young woman, whom I will call Gaby, explain her home life and her pregnancy, asking me to help her obtain a judicial bypass, which would allow her to obtain an abortion without a parent or guardian’s consent. She was just as mature as I am—probably more. “Well the thing is,” she said to me, her voice exuding a kind of tough conviction, “I just can’t bring a baby into this world right now.”  Read more »

Surprise! Slashing Funding Limits Reproductive Health Care Access

The Texas Evaluation Policy project released a new study [PDF] finding that many Texas women struggle to access and pay for reproductive health care, including cervical cancer screening and birth control. The researchers looked at women’s access to reproductive health care, beginning in 2011 when the Texas legislature slashed state funding for family planning and rejected federal funding for the women’s health program. Since 2011, 76 women’s health clinics have closed, leaving many women without nearby care. Read more »

Abortion Coverage Ban Would Harm Texas Women

Once again, Texas politicians are trying to make it harder for women to access abortion. Today, the Texas House State Affairs Committee will hear testimony regarding HB 3130 which would prohibit health insurance plans sold in the marketplace from covering abortion, except when a woman’s life is in danger or to prevent “irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, other than a psychological or emotional condition.” 

This overly narrow exception ignores the real circumstances women face when deciding whether or not to continue a pregnancy. By denying women coverage for abortion, the bill cruelly punishes women by making it harder for them to access this needed health care service and will disproportionately harm lower-income women who may be unable to afford an abortion without insurance coverage.    Read more »

The One Mississippi Abortion Clinic Stays Open, But…

Good news - the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit just refused to reconsider a panel’s earlier decision to block a Mississippi law that would have closed the state’s only abortion clinic. The law required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and was meant to — and would have — forced the sole clinic in the state to shut its doors. But the panel said the law went too far and was unconstitutional — the full court’s decision not to rehear the case means that the clinic stays open. This is great news for Mississippi women who will continue to have access to abortion in their state.

But…. Read more »

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Down Opportunity to Stand Up for Texas Women

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a devastating ruling Tuesday in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, refusing to block a law that is forcing one-third of Texas’ abortion clinics to stop offering vital services.

Back in July of 2013, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law H.B. 2, which, among other things, requires abortion providers to obtain unnecessary admitting privileges at local hospitals. Almost immediately, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union joined forces with a local Texas firm and filed a lawsuit on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients.

The district court judge found the restriction both unconstitutional and unnecessary and prevented the restriction from going into effect. His ruling was a clear victory for Texas families, yet was almost immediately reversed by a three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that decreasing the number of physicians available to perform abortions and increasing the cost of abortions was not an “undue burden” on the women of Texas, and allowed the law to remain in effect while the matter is fully litigated in the courts. Read more »