Texas abortion providers are challenging a law that requires them to operate as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers before it is scheduled to go into effect September 1.
“The closure today of Whole Woman’s Health of Austin is the result of politicians acting against the women in our state when they passed HB 2,” said Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller in a press release on Thursday.
As Democrats struggle to take back the heavily Republican-dominated state legislature, reproductive rights and health-care access are sure to play out as central issues for both Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his likely opponent Charlie Crist.
So far this year, 13 states have adopted 21 new restrictions designed to limit access to abortion, about half the number (41) of similar restrictions that had been enacted by this point last year.
A new law in South Dakota bans the practice of so-called sex-selection abortion, while in Indiana two new laws went into effect, banning private insurance coverage of abortion care and mandating that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
At last weekend’s National Right to Life Committee’s convention, Mary Spaulding Balch criticized the legislative strategy used by other anti-choice groups to pass 20-week abortion bans by claiming the procedure is dangerous to women. The proper approach, she said, is to base the argument around the unborn.
Mississippi’s new law is a 20-week ban, while Florida’s creates additional restrictions on abortions performed in the third trimester, and bans abortion at any point in a pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus could survive outside the pregnant person’s body.
In striking a Massachusetts buffer zone law, the U.S. Supreme Court has dramatically reframed the debate over balancing the rights of patients and providers with the rights of abortion protesters.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health recently asked Planned Parenthood facilities in the state to submit transfer agreement and admitting privileges information, even though the state currently does not require clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. A spokesperson said a department employee was acting on his or her own.
Ultimately, we do not see the passage of HB 2 as a total loss. On the contrary, we recognize that that moment was an opportunity and an opening.