SCOTUS Blocks Texas Abortion Law HB 2
Texas women claim rare victory
In a rare victory for Texas pro-choice advocates and reproductive health providers, the U.S. Supreme Court halted key provisions of Texas abortion law, House Bill 2, from taking effect, pending ongoing appeals.
In late August, U.S. Judge Lee Yeakel found HB 2 to be "unconstitutional" and an "undue burden" on abortion-seeking women. However, the state appealed the ruling and sent the case to the conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which stayed the federal judge's ruling earlier this month, allowing the law to be immediately enforced and leaving just eight clinics to serve the entire state. Last Monday, abortion providers seeking to stop HB 2 filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Tuesday, the court (Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissenting) struck the 5th Circuit ruling, granting 13 clinics that closed their doors because of the appellate court decision the potential to reopen. In Austin, the Planned Parenthood South Austin Center was the sole remaining abortion provider following the circuit court decision; as a result of the SCOTUS ruling, Brookside Women's Medical Center has renewed abortion services, and a spokesperson with the Whole Woman's Health clinic that ceased services in July due to HB 2 said they are considering their options.
The SCOTUS ruling blocks two parts of HB 2 – a requirement that forces clinics to comply with the same costly building standards as ambulatory surgical centers and a rule that requires abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed. In this case, the admitting privileges provision only applies to the Whole Woman's Health Clinic of McAllen and Reproductive Services of El Paso.
"The U.S. Supreme Court gave Texas women a tremendous victory today," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of HB 2 case plaintiffs, the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement following the ruling. Similarly, echoing the wave of relief felt by abortion providers, Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman's Health, which operates clinics across Texas, said, "Tonight, Texan women got justice."