Texas Abortion Regs Stand as 5th Circuit Reverses Lower Court's Ruling

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  • Pro-Life
    (Photo: Courtesy of Concerned Women for America)
    Supporters of legislation in Texas that would ban abortion after 20-weeks gestation gather outside the capitol during the Stand4Life pro-life rally in Austin, Texas, on Monday, June 8, 2013.
By Melissa Barnhart, CP Reporter
November 1, 2013|12:38 pm

Abortion clinics in Texas will have to comply with a new state law that requires abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 miles should a patient need emergency care. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Thursday granted a temporary injunction and overruled Federal Judge Lee Yeakel's decision in which he ruled that part of the state's abortion law is unconstitutional. For now, the law stands until it's argued before the Fifth Circuit in the coming months.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Center for Reproductive Rights and abortionists have argued that the state's new abortion regulations would lead to a majority of the state's abortion clinics closing down. But according to Texas Right to Life, abortionists have the power to meet the health and safety standards that are required by law, if they want to.

"If you're advocating against safety standards as a means of keeping more abortion clinics open, then that doesn't promote better health at all," Emily Horne, legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, told The Christian Post on Monday. "I can't be OK with saying 'Well, we just better not pass any regulations because even if the abortions are unsafe, they have to be available."

She continued, "I can't predict what the abortion clinics are going to do in the future. It's in their power to upgrade the facility standards. But you can't advocate for more abortions if you're advocating against safety."

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood and daughter of the-late Ann Richards, a former governor of Texas, said in a Thursday statement that, "This fight is far from over. This restriction clearly violates Texas women's constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide."

In a statement shared with CP, Ashley McGuire of the Catholic Association commented on the Fifth Circuit's  reversal noting, "The Court's restoration of the requirement that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital is basic common sense, especially in the post-Gosnell era. Beginning today, nearly one-third of abortion clinics in Texas cannot legally perform abortions. Whether the law will continue to weather the courts, time will tell, but in the meantime - countless lives will be saved and the health of many women will be protected."

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who believes the case will ultimately be resolved by the appellate courts or the U.S. Supreme Court, petitioned the Fifth Circuit for a trial date in January 2014, during which the full arguments on the constitutionality of two provisions of HB 2 will be heard. This includes the requirement that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital within 30 milies of the abortion facility, and regulations that require abortionists to dispense RU-486 and other abortion-inducing drugs to their patients in-office for each dosage.

The Fifth Circuit did, however, leave Yeakel's ruling that abortionists can use their discretion and give women RU-486 to take at home, and not dispense at the abortion clinic, if the patient is 50 to 63 days into her pregnancy, and if the abortionist thinks the woman must take the abortion-inducing drugs at home because they feel the health or life of the mother is at risk.

Since lawyers for Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Center for Reproductive Rights did not contest the ban on abortions at 20 weeks gestation, this part of the law went into effect in Texas on Tuesday.

Similarly, the lawsuit didn't challenge a regulation in the law that requires all abortion facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory care centers by the fall of 2014.

Alexis McGill Johnson, chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Fox News' Megyn Kelly on "The Kelly File" Monday night that, as the largest abortion provider in the U.S., Planned Parenthood is considering filing lawsuits in states that ban abortion at 20 weeks gestation and younger, because, according to Johnson, babies are not viable at that stage of life.

The Christian Post contacted Johnson about Planned Parenthood's decision to file lawsuits in states that have a ban on abortion at 20 weeks gestation and younger, but has not received a response at the time of this publication.

 

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