Human Rights

Judges uphold TX abortion law, immediately closing most clinics

The thing the Texas abortion industry has feared has come into fruition: the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned an injunction allowing Texas to enforce its abortion law, effective immediately. This will effectively shutter all but seven abortion facilities in the Lone Star State unless clinics are able to upgrade facilities to comply with the regulations under HB2.

HB2 enacted several restrictions, but the requirement that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, was granted an injunction by District Judge Lee Yeakel on August 29. Most knew it was only a temporary reprieve for the abortion industry as the case went before a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Earlier this week, the panel did as most expected and voted against Yeakel’s ruling, saying the law could go into effect while the case is appealed.

In the aftermath of the Texas ruling, many abortion appointments will not be fulfilled.

The Houston Chronicle notes that “perhaps more importantly, the panel said the appeals court is likely to ultimately uphold the omnibus law approved by state lawmakers over a high-profile filibuster last summer.”

This made one abortion clinic executive rather upset. Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, told the Chronicle:

“What we have been fearing is now official. Texas faces a health care crisis, brought on by its own legislators.”

Indeed, Miller will see her profits dwindle as only one of her five clinics is allowed to open under the law’s enforcement. So will others.

The Austin-American Statesman reports that Jennifer Dalven, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, said:

“This is a devastating day for Texas women. The court’s decision ignores the medical experts, who have recognized that these laws hurt women, not help them.”

One leader of NARAL’s Texas branch said:

“It’s heartbreaking to think of all the women that will be detrimentally affected.”

However, now that this law can go into effect, the fetal heartbeat of preborn babies will not be eliminated, but allowed to keep beating. However “devastating” that may seem to the abortion industry, the fact remains that some babies scheduled for abortions–all of whom already have heartbeats–will be allowed to live.

While the appeal process continues, the Fifth Circuit Court has recognized that a passed law should be enforced–something Yeakel did not when he halted it. Prior to HB2, 41 abortion clinics were open in Texas, but as the enforcement of various provisions have taken effect, some have closed down. The enforcement of the surgical facility provision will slice the number of abortion clinics down– even as few as seven– if facilities are not upgraded to comply with HB2.

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