A new federal lawsuit is challenging provisions of Texas' newest abortion law. This latest suit comes less than a week after a federal appeals court ruled certain provisions of the law were constitutional and could stand.
Abortion rights advocates are seeking an immediate court order that would block the requirement that abortion doctors receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic. But in this lawsuit, the challenge to that provision only applies to two clinics: one in McAllen and one in El Paso.
"Prior to [the new law], these two Texas clinics have been among the last few – if not the only – reproductive health care providers offering abortion services in their respective communities," says Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup, one of the plaintiffs. Whole Woman's Health stopped providing abortions in McAllen in November 2013. Next month, the temporary hospital admitting privileges that El Paso's Reproductive Services clinic obtained will expire. "It is clear right now in this country where a woman’s constitutional rights depend on her zip code," Northup says.
They plaintiffs are also challenging the requirement that clinics upgrade structurally to surgical centers by September.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and chief executive officer of Whole Woman's Health, says she will likely close two more clinics if the ambulatory surgical centers [ASCs] requirement goes into effect in September.
"ASCs were never intended to increase costs or to be used for care that could be provided in more basic clinic or doctor’s office settings," Hagstrom Miller says. "And yet, that is what our politicians now claim, with no basis in science or medical evidence, that one of our safest medical procedures should be done in a more expensive setting."
Last week, the Fifth U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled in a separate lawsuit that the admitting privileges requirement is constitutional.
Right now, Texas has a little more than 20 abortion clinics open. Of those, six meet the structural requirements.