Abortion

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked some elements of Texas' House Bill 2, which puts new restrictions on abortion clinics in the state. Abortion providers say the rules in question, which were to go into effect July 1, would have forced as many as 10 abortion clinics to close.

That would have left Texas with as few as eight abortion clinics, mostly in big cities.

Alexa Ura / Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court is allowing several disputed elements of Texas’ HB2 abortion law to go into effect.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A bill (House Bill 3994) that would add restrictions to how minors can bypass the state’s parental consent law to get an abortion was approved by the Texas Senate today.

What’s called the judicial bypass bill received plenty of roadblocks from opponents, however. 

Before the bill was even brought up for a vote, opponents in the Senate had hours’ worth of questions about what the bill would require a minor and a judge to do.

House Will Take Up Abortion Insurance Coverage Ban

May 25, 2015
Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune: In a dramatic turn of events, the House Calendars Committee on Sunday night reversed course and sent a controversial bill prohibiting health insurance plans sold on the Affordable Care Act's marketplace from covering abortions to the full chamber for a vote.

Earlier in the night, the committee voted not to place Senate Bill 575 by Republican Sen. Larry Taylor on the lower chamber’s calendar for Tuesday — the last day a Senate bill can be passed by the House. After fireworks on the House floor instigated by a lawmaker who believed he had entered into an agreement to get the bill to the full chamber, the committee reconvened and reconsidered its vote. 

Bob Daemmrich/Texas Tribune

From the Texas Tribune:

Minors seeking to obtain abortions without parental consent would face more restrictions under a bill that received preliminary approval Wednesday from the Texas House.

After about four hours of debate and a barrage of failed amendments by Democrats, the House passed House Bill 3994 by Republican state Rep. Geanie Morrison of Victoria on a 98-47 vote. The measure would enact several restrictions on “judicial bypass,” the legal process that allows some minors to obtain abortions without their parents’ permission. The measure now awaits final approval by the House before it can go to the Senate.

Texas law requires minors to obtain consent for an abortion from at least one parent. But if obtaining an abortion could endanger the minor, she can look to the courts for judicial bypass to obtain the abortion without parental consent.

msjacoby/flickr

On Tuesday, the Texas Senate tentatively passed a bill that would prohibit abortion coverage under many health insurance plans. It could get final approval today.

The bill would only allow coverage for abortions in cases where there’s a medical emergency. State Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) says his measure gives Texans who don’t support abortion the choice not to pay for others to get the procedure.

Karina Kling/Time Warner Cable News

Back in October, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked two parts of a Texas abortion law called HB2, but only temporarily, until a federal appeals court rules on their constitutionality.

One key provision of the Texas law would require that all abortion clinics adopt the building standards of ambulatory surgical centers, a standard that most existing providers don't meet. These buildings cost millions of dollars to construct.

Liang Shi/KUT News

The Texas Legislature made headlines in 2013 when it passed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country,

That law, known as HB2, bans most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, it requires doctors to receive admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the abortion clinic and only allows abortions at ambulatory surgical centers. Parts of that law are being challenged this week at a federal appeals court.

The new year is expected to bring yet another round of state laws to restrict abortion — and 2015 could also be the year a challenge to at least one of these laws could reach the Supreme Court.

The ongoing spike in abortion laws started after 2010, when Republicans won big in the midterms. Since then, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 abortion regulations — more than in the entire decade before. And with more statehouse gains in the fall elections, abortion opponents expect another good year.

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court has halted the enforcement of two provisions of Texas' new abortion law, known as House Bill 2, for now.

"Tonight, our reality in Texas was recognized by SCOTUS and they ruled on the side of Texan Women," said Amy Hagstrom Miller in a statement. Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, which is a plaintiff in the case against the provisions. "We are so proud to have led this fight."

photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A panel of federal judges are considering arguments related to provisions in Texas’ newest abortion law that were struck down late last month. It's one step in a long process of appeals.

The State of Texas is asking the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an emergency motion to enforce the state’s abortion law.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Abortion clinics in Texas have until Sept. 1 to meet the standards of hospital-style surgical centers. Providers say that will force all but a handful of clinics in Texas to close down. Today, a federal judge in Austin heard closing arguments for and against certain provisions in the state's newest abortion law.

Even if you're trying, it's tough to keep score of what's happening with various lawsuits challenging some state abortion laws.

States led by anti-abortion governors and legislatures have been passing a broad array of measures over the past few years aimed at making the procedure more difficult for women to obtain.

About two dozen states enacted 70 such measures in 2013, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Those laws range from imposing waiting periods to requiring ultrasounds to limiting the use of the "abortion pill" mifepristone, or RU486.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Update (5:07 p.m.): U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel has scheduled closing arguments in a federal trial against the state's newest abortion law for next Wednesday, Aug. 13, in the morning, after witness testimony concluded today.

The plaintiffs hope Judge Yeakel will strike down a provision that requires abortions only take place at ambulatory surgical centers. And that the provision requiring doctors to receive admitting privileges at  hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform the procedure will be struck down for physicians in El Paso and McAllen.

A federal judge ruled on Monday that an Alabama law targeting doctors who perform abortions is unconstitutional, because it places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

A trial over new abortion restrictions in Texas continues in Austin today. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel heard the first day of arguments for and against two provisions: One, that abortion clinics must become surgical centers by Sept. 1 and two, that abortion physicians in McAllen and El Paso must receive admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic where they perform the procedure.

When the legal challenge to the law, known as House Bill 2, began, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Jan Soifer, argued the provisions will drastically reduce the number of abortion providers in Texas. 
Fewer than 10 facilities that meet the new requirements will be open, and all of them in the state’s major cities.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

Abortion rights advocates are going back to court today to argue against two provisions of the state’s new abortion law. This isn’t the first time U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel has heard arguments against the newest abortion law in Texas, HB2. He struck down two provisions last year, but an appeals court overturned his decision in March.

This time, the law’s opponents are going after a provision that goes into effect in less than a month.

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

A women’s health care provider, whose Austin location offered abortions, is closing its doors today. 

The clinic is run by Whole Woman's Health, whose president and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, blames the closure on the state’s new abortion law. The law requires clinics to upgrade to surgical centers by Sept. 1.

"It’s a decision that the state has made," Hagstrom Miller says. "It’s been a real challenge to try and fight back and do everything that we can, but in the end there’s no way that we can afford to build an ambulatory surgical center or do that kind of remodeling."

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The number of abortions in Texas decreased by about 13 percent statewide and 21 percent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley following the passage of strict abortion regulations that went into effect last November, according to a report that academic researchers released Wednesday. 

State Senator Wendy Davis on the floor of the Texas Senate on June 25, 2013.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Last legislative session, House Bill 2 proved to be a landmark moment for the abortion debate in Texas. It further politicized the issue both sides of the aisle, garnered national media attention, boosted political profiles and launched campaigns.

When the debate was over and it finally passed, HB 2 established a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers, and forced abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Rick Perry signing the bill into law.

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