Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit on Friday to block the Texas abortion law, which they argue improperly limits access to a safe and legal procedure.
Known as House Bill 2, the law came to national attention when state Sen. Wendy Davis blocked the bill with a 13-hour filibuster on the last day of a special legislative session. Governor Rick Perry called a second special session, and the bill ultimately passed.
Two of the new regulations under contention -- stricter doctor oversight of abortion-inducing drugs including RU-486 and a requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals -- are scheduled to go into effect October 29.
This lawsuit does not challenge the provision which would require clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers, which is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, 2014.
Whole Woman’s Health, which owns abortion clinics five Texas cities including Austin, is the lead plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, filed in Austin.
“We are filing a lawsuit today to stop the immense damage that this law will do to the health-care system for women and families in Texas,” said WWH president Amy Hagstrom Miller. “Many clinics have already closed, and many more face closure if this law is not enjoined immediately.”
“Any one of these restrictions would have a devastating impact across the state of Texas,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Together they would be catastrophic, making essential reproductive health care services for many Texans, especially poor and rural women, practically impossible to access.”
Before passing HB2, the legislature and Governor Perry ended the Texas Women's Health Program, which has already reduced or eliminated medical care for thousands of women across the state.
Texas also ranks near the bottom when it comes to women's economic security and access to health care, according to a recent report from the Center for American Progress. Texas also has the highest rate of uninsured people of any state in the country.