By Dave Andrusko
On Monday, the last day of the current term, the Supreme Court agreed to issue a stay thus allowing nine Texas abortion clinics to remain open while the Justices consider whether to hear an appeal of two provisions of Texas’ omnibus H.B. 2 that had been scheduled to go into effect in July.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito Jr. voting to deny the emergency appeal.
If the Supreme Court eventually refuses to hear the case, the stay will be lifted and the law will take effect. However if the justices agree to hear the case, the stay would remain in effect until a ruling is issued.
Adding significance to the importance that is attached to any High Court decision on abortion is that it could come down next June, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The provisions at issue are the requirements that abortionists have admitting privileges at a local hospital in case of medical emergencies and that abortion clinics meet the requirements of ambulatory surgical centers.
As NRL News reported, other provisions of the law took effect in 2013 and one provision–a measure banning the abortion of pain-capable unborn children–was never challenged.
(An in-depth analysis of the brilliant brief submitted by Texas legislators defending the need for both these requirements can be read at www.nationalrighttolifenews.org/news/2014/11/texas-legislators-brilliantly-defend-the-need-for-abortionists-to-have-admitting-privileges-and-for-abortion-facilities-to-meet-asc-standards/#more-38729.)
A week ago last Friday a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined a request by Texas abortion clinics to issue a stay on its decision that upheld the bulk of Texas’ historic H.B. 2.
Attorneys for abortion clinics in Texas then filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court which the justices acted on today.
As veteran Supreme Court reporter Lyle Denniston explained, “Both of those provisions have been upheld, in nearly all situations in the state, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. It modified the surgical facilities requirement slightly to accommodate the clinic in McAllen, the only clinic performing abortions in a wide area of southwest Texas. The Fifth Circuit divided two to one in refusing to delay the enforcement of the law.”
A different (and divided) three-judge panel of the 5th circuit struck down a Mississippi law that is similar in one respect (admitting privileges) but different in another (no requirement that abortion clinics be treated as ambulatory surgical centers). That vote was 2-1.
A number of states have passed what pro-lifers believe are commonsensical requirements. To be specific, 16 states have protective laws requiring that abortionists have admitting privileged in a nearby hospital while 22 states have laws mandating that abortion clinics be treated like ASCs.