Texas Abortion Providers Head Back to Court in New HB 2 Lawsuit


A group of doctors announced Wednesday that they will file suit against the State of Texas, six months before a new law is expected to shutter 18 of Texas’ 25 existing legal abortion facilities. The providers are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which also represented some of the same medical professionals in a lawsuit against the state filed last fall.

In a statement, CRR President Nancy Northrup said that her organization “filed this lawsuit to stop the second-largest state in the nation from plunging millions of women back into the darkness and grave danger of illegal abortion that Roe v. Wade was supposed to end.”

The lawsuit challenges two provisions of HB 2, the omnibus anti-abortion law passed last summer after a special legislative session saw thousands of Texans descend on their state capitol in support of reproductive rights following state Sen. Wendy Davis’ 13-hour filibuster of the bill.

The plaintiffs, which include providers from El Paso, Central Texas, Dallas, and the Rio Grande Valley, are asking for a court order that would prevent abortion providers from having to renovate—or build anew—facilities to mirror hospital-style ambulatory surgical centers (ASC), construction that can often cost millions of dollars. Though the conservative sponsors of HB 2 claimed that its intent was to improve patient safety, when the law was passed last summer, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a Republican, tweeted that it was intended to shutter as many legal abortion providers as possible.

Only six existing ambulatory surgical centers in Texas provide abortions, with a seventh tentatively expected to open in San Antonio this fall. If HB 2′s ASC requirements go into effect, about three-quarters of Texas abortion providers would be forced to close, and none would remain open west or south of San Antonio, or east of Houston.

Secondly, two abortion providers in far south and far west Texas are asking the court to block the provision of HB 2 that requires them to have hospital admitting privileges if they perform legal abortions. That provision ended access to legal abortion in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley in November 2013.

In January, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in an earlier lawsuit brought against the state by some of the same plaintiffs, and last week a three-judge panel issued an opinion in favor of the State of Texas, ruling that the provisions of HB 2 that heavily restrict the prescription of medication abortions and which require abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges are constitutional, and do not impose an “undue burden” on Texans seeking legal abortion procedures.

Researchers at the University of Texas’ Texas Policy Evaluation Project have estimated that more than 22,000 Texans would be unable to access legal abortion as a result of those two provisions. Critics of the law say the impact is expected to be much greater if the state is left with only a handful of legal abortion providers, located only in major metropolitan areas.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Follow Andrea Grimes on twitter: @andreagrimes

  • http://www.deannaw.wordpress.com Deanna Candler

    Interesting how these “doctors” will spend millions on court cases, but refuse to spend that money on making their clinics as safe as possible for the women that use them…

    • L-dan

      *eyeroll*

      1. looking at the larger organizations involved, the doctors themselves are not spending millions. How much taxpayer money is Texas spending to defend laws that are clearly designed to gain points with the anti-abortion base rather than actually address patient safety?

      2. Do point out where there is any evidence that these laws make clinics safer. The requirement for admitting privileges is well-documented as a. not improving safety in the least, and b. restricting access thus actually making abortion less safe as women turn to black market pills and the like. Additionally, there is no need to do first trimester abortions (which is all that some clinics offer) at an ambulatory surgery center.

      3. Where are the laws fighting to make all the *other* clinics doing outpatient procedures safer? All this focus on abortion, while ignoring other outpatient facilities, makes it hard to believe that legislators are truly interested in safety.

    • goatini

      Concern troll is (not really) concerned.

      LIE Action Spews troll is flagged for trolling.

      • http://www.deannaw.wordpress.com Deanna Candler

        disagreeing is trolling? noted

        • Shan

          Exactly what about the article are you disagreeing with? Please reference the article itself.

        • goatini

          Citing a deceptive meme that has no basis in fact, to attempt to assert an untenable position, IS trolling.

          Go back to LIE Action Spews and whine about how the supporters of the civil, human and Constitutional rights of female US citizens called you out on your BS.

        • expect_resistance

          Here’s a hint for you. When you say doctors as in “doctors” in quotations, that is a dead give away you are a troll.

    • Jennifer Starr

      You don’t care about making the clinics safe. You care about closing them down. Let’s not be disingenuous here.

    • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

      Flagged for nasty BS.

    • Ivy Mike

      Interesting how politicians, at the behest of their jackleg preacher and religious fanatic supporters, choose to spend millions of dollars of taxpayer monies defending legislation that is unnecessary, discriminatory, and motivated solely by their anti-choice bullshit.

      Tell me, do you think the taxpayers signed up for this? Do you think that if they knew how much of their money would have to be spent humoring anti-choice groups and “leaders”, and harassing people whose private decisions are none of their concern, they would be on board with this??

    • Ivy Mike

      As if you or your ilk give one hot shit about the “safety” of these clinics. Your entire, stated, and blatantly obvious goal is to shut them down completely.

      So, why the lies and bullshit? Why not just admit what you really want, explain the real reasons, and go for it?

      Why indeed? Too chickenshit to admit it? Realize that you’d completely lose if your fanatical, religious-based, anti-woman, anti-sex, anti-liberty, and anti-modernity goals and motivations came to light?

      Why, indeed? I think we all really know.

    • Ramanusia

      Given that their clinics are already as safe as possible for the women that use them and the things the bill requires in no way provides safety for the women, they’ve admitted the whole purpose of the TRAP law was to shut down clinics, which makes this bill designed to make it as unsafe for women as possible, they’re doctors without the scare quotes. See, the doctors actually care about women’s health and safety, while the bill’s authors on “care” about denying women access to safe care. How do we know it’s safe and that these doctors are doing their jobs without endangering women? The lack of women actually suffering from the fictional horrors made up by the CONS. They don’t need admitting privileges since the women who use the services of the clinics don’t need hospital admissions.

      Interesting how you have no problem with these law makers spending millions on court cases on blatantly unconstitutional laws, but refuse to spend that money on making health care access for women as safe as possible, instead encouraging them to seek out desperate measures that have in the past and will again endanger those women’s lives.

      It’s like you only “care” about women’s lives when you’re deliberately trying to harm them.