By Dave Andrusko
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel is expected to rule today on a provision of Texas’ HB 2 that requires that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. The provision will go into effect next Monday, unless Judge Yeakel issues an injunction.
Pro-life Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed the omnibus HB 2 bill into law in July 2013.
Opponents, fearing rejection, did not challenge the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which is part of HB 2. This provision prohibits killing unborn children who have reached the developmental milestone of being able to feel pain, which substantial medical evidence places at 20 weeks, if not earlier.
Pro-abortionist have contested other provisions of HB 2. One requirement is that abortionists secure admitting privileges in a local hospital for those cases where there are complications.
However a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit unanimously upheld the admitting privileges provisions.
HB 2 also requires that the abortionist be in the same room as the woman receiving the chemical abortifacients (which is not the case with so-called ‘web-cam” abortions) and that abortionists follow the protocol approved by the FDA for the use of the two-drug “RU-486” abortion technique. The panel upheld that provision as well.
Litigants, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, contesting the building requirements told Yeakel during five days of testimony that the requirement is not needed and would have the effect of closing many abortion clinics in places outside major metropolitan areas.
“This is a battle to stop the politicians who have already done devastating and potentially irreparable harm to the health care system for women in Texas from obliterating it entirely for millions of women statewide,” Nancy Northup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement earlier this month.
But according to Kaiser Health News’ Carrie Feibel, Melissa Conway, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, said, “if the number of abortions and the number of clinics drops in Texas, that’s something she’s glad about, but it wasn’t the intent of the law. She said the regulations are about making abortion safer, so abortion providers should invest in the required upgrades.”
“’The choice to have fewer clinics comes down to the abortion providers,’ Conway said. ‘If they choose to have disregard for the health of women, and the safety standards, which are practical, common-sense and best standards, that’s their choice. But that points highly to the fact that they care more about their bottom line than they do their patient care.’”
If Yeakel rules against the requirement, Attorney General Greg Abbott could (and likely would) quickly appeal to reinstate it.