Feature image via Aljazeera America
A federal judge has ruled certain provisions of a severely restrictive Texas abortion law unconstitutional, a decision that will keep clinics open to serve the women who need them.
The law in question is most commonly known as House Bill 2 — the bill State Senator Wendy Davis famously filibustered in summer 2013. After it passed into law, several abortion providers sued the state. In his ruling today, Judge Lee Yeakel didn’t mince words when he explained his decision to strike down a requirement that clinics meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers like minimum doorway sizes and pipelines for anesthesia. At most, eight clinics would have remained open after the law went into effect Monday and would have each had to serve 7,500-10,000 patients per year.
“Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand, the court concludes that the practical impact on Texas women due to the clinics’ closure statewide would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion,” he wrote in the ruling. The requirement “burdens Texas women in a way incompatible with the principles of personal freedom and privacy protected by the United States Constitution for the 40 years since Roe v. Wade.”
Yeakel also granted an exemption to a provision requiring the abortion doctor have hospital admitting privileges to Whole Women’s Health in McAllen and Reproductive Services in El Paso, which had already shut down after not being able to meet the requirement. The McAllen clinic could reopen within 48 hours, the Texas Tribune reports. He points out the extreme wrongness of the state’s claim that the closure of all clinics in rural areas will not inhibit the ability of rural women to get an abortion, especially those who are poor, and points out the class issues inherent in abortion access.
“A woman with means, the freedom and ability to travel, and the desire to obtain an abortion, will always be able to obtain one,” he wrote. “However, Roe’s essential holding guarantees to all women, not just those of means, the righto a previabilty abortion.”
— Andrea Grimes (@andreagrimes) August 29, 2014
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately filed an appeal, to the surprise of no one, so HB2 and Texas women’s access to abortion remains under scrutiny. Follow Andrea Grimes, Jessica Luther and Alexa Ura on Twitter for reliable and frequent updates.