A trial begins today in federal court over Texas’ restrictive anti-abortion law. The lawsuit concerns portions of a house bill, passed into law in July, requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as well as other severe provisions.
In June, Texas House Republicans approved a Senate Bill that included several restrictions that had failed to pass throughout the year, including requiring abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at hospitals, requiring abortifacient drugs to be administered in person by a doctor, banning abortions after 20 weeks, and limiting abortions to surgical centers.
Throughout the year, some two dozen anti-abortion bills introduced by Texas Republicans failed to advance, yet Gov. Rick Perry (R) decided to add the failed legislation to the agenda for a 30-day special session.
Democrats opposing the measure, along with protesters and women’s health advocates, have been attempting to fight Republican measures for months. Democrats had a temporary victory after Sen. Wendy Davis (D) staged an 11-hour filibuster against the harsh legislation. However, in July, the Republican-controlled Senate passed legislation that had been delayed by the filibuster.
Gov. Perry continually made passing the legislation a priority, citing his commitment to “defend life and protect women’s health.”
After Perry signed the bill into law in July, more than a dozen Texas health care providers, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against the bill.
Reproductive and women’s health advocates are asking a federal court to block two provisions of the legislation that they view as the most devastating to reproductive rights: requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges and requiring doctors to use an outdated method of administering abortion-inducing drugs.
The Texas bill would force 90 percent of the state’s clinics to close, according to ThinkProgress. Restrictive requirements forcing closures could leave just 5 clinics left operating in the entire state.
Across the country, Republican lawmakers have been battling to suppress women’s reproductive rights. In March, the state of Arkansas passed the most restrictive abortion ban in the country, banning abortions after 12 weeks. The Arkansas House quashed a veto by Gov. Mike Beebe (D), who argued that the bill violated the precedent set by the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
In May of last year, an Oklahoma state judge ruled that an Oklahoma law severely restricting the way in which health care providers can administer abortion-inducing drugs – the same provision in Texas’ current law – is unconstitutional.
Over the past few years, Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider, or TRAP, laws have become law across the country at the state level. These laws have “nothing to do with protecting women and everything to do with shutting down clinics,” the Guttmacher Institute reports. The number of closures of abortion-providing facilities across the nation is unprecedented.
In June, the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, told the Associated Press that conservative restrictions could force many women to resort to “dangerous and unsafe measures.” Researchers from the University of Texas estimate that decreased access to abortion clinics will result in about 22,286 women who are unable to legally terminate a pregnancy.
Many of those women could end up resorting to unsafe or illegal practices, including seeking black market treatments across the border in Mexico.