Court Denies State's Request to Enforce HB 2 ... for Now

Abbott's appeal chastised for tardiness

Court Denies State's Request to Enforce HB 2 ... for Now
Illustration by Jason Stout.

Update: Suit plaintiff, Whole Woman’s Health, announced today that they will reopen their previously closed McAllen center (shut down in March as a result of HB 2) and continue abortion care services at their Ft. Worth and San Antonio clinics. They also plan to build a new center in New Mexico and begin an advocacy campaign.

“We are more than resilient in the face of these threats. We are stronger and more determined than ever. We won’t sit back and witness the continued political interference in reproductive decision making by politicians, especially when low-income women, women of color, and rural women bear the brunt of it,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.

As of now, the abortion provider network has no plans to reopen the recently closed Austin clinic, a Whole Woman's spokesperson tells the Chronicle. The provider will make a determination on if and when they will begin the process of restoring services in Austin after the 5th Circuit hearing next week.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request to immediately enforce part of Texas’ abortion law, House Bill 2.

Instead, the Court has scheduled oral arguments for Friday, Sept. 12 in New Orleans. As a result of the denial, a recent federal court ruling that found key parts of the legislation unconstitutional will likely stay in effect until the Court hears each side’s case.

The suit filed by abortion providers took on a regulation that mandated clinics spend up to $3 million to comply with the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers by Sept. 1; it is expected to close all but as few as six clinics if enacted. The suit also challenged a requirement that forces physicians to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where any procedure is performed for two clinic locations.

U.S. Judge Lee Yeakel concluded both provisions of the law posed an “undue burden” on abortion-seeking women, in a ruling issued late Friday afternoon. Abbott appealed Sunday evening, arguing the judge failed to take into account binding precedent. The state also claimed it is “suffering immediate injury” from Yeakel’s ruling.

In its three-page response to the state’s motion for an emergency stay, the appellate court criticized Abbott’s request for tardiness, reported the Houston Chronicle: The state, “waited until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday August 31 to file the stay motion; a corrected version was sent at 12:08 a.m. on Monday September 1. This did not allow time for a response, or for the court adequately to consider the motion, before the scheduled effective date, though the appellants claim irreparable harm from the statute’s not being enforced. Moreover, the tardy motion was well in excess of the number of pages that are allowed.”

Each side will have 30 minutes to argue on the appeal, according to the circuit court clerk's response.

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