Legal Wrangling

Appeals court upholds controversial restrictions at Texas abortion clinics

Appeals court upholds new restrictions at Texas abortion clinics

The latest twist in the circuitous journey of House Bill No. 2 has put the controversial abortion law back in action. An October 2 ruling from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allows Texas to enforce the new restrictions, which had previously been stayed by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.

The federal decision means only eight abortion providers in the entire state of Texas will be allowed to remain open. The legal clinics are located in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio.

Under HB2, all abortion facilities must satisfy "ambulatory surgical center requirements" and the physicians who perform abortions need admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Yeakel ruled both provisions unconstitutional, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry appealed the decision.

The new law's stringent requirements will close all the abortion clinics in the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas.

Although it has a different name, this is the same law first made famous by Fort Worth Sen. Wendy Davis, who successfully filibustered the first version of the bill. She is now the democratic candidate for governor of Texas.

After the October 2 ruling was handed down, both Davis and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott took to Twitter to react.

"Women should be able to make personal decisions without intrusion of pols like Greg Abbott, who'd ban abortion even for rape and incest," Davis tweeted.

Abbott, meanwhile, declared victory. "We just won this round on HB2 in the Court of Appeals," he wrote. In a statement to Fox News, Abbott spokeswoman Lauren Bean praised the ruling for "protecting women."

"This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women," she said.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice in Texas, called the appellate decision "gravely disappointing."

"HB2 is an undue burden on Texans’ access to safe, legal, and timely abortion care and was efficiently designed to close abortion clinics, not to protect the health and safety of Texans," Busby said in a statement. "When the need for abortion stays the same, but there are fewer reputable providers available, it creates the space for illegal providers and unsafe self-abortion care."

The view from the courtroom
The federal decision means only eight abortion providers in the entire state of Texas will be allowed to remain open. uscourts.gov
Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters an abortion bill at the Texas Capitol
Although it has a different name, this is the same law Wendy Davis first made famous. Photo by Tom Reel
Greg Abbott
Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott supports HB2. Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia