On Oct. 31, a three-judge panel in the 5th Circuit lifted an injunction by a lower federal court that targeted two provisions in House Bill 2: one that required abortion providers to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital nearby the facility, and one that requires abortion providers to follow federal guidelines — rather than a common, evidence-based protocol — when administering drug-induced abortions.
The plaintiffs, who represent the majority of abortion providers in Texas, including four Planned Parenthood affiliates, Whole Woman’s Health and other independent abortion providers filed a lawsuit in September, seeking an injunction on the two provisions. They have argued that the provisions are unconstitutional because they place an undue burden on women attempting to access the procedure. They also say a third of the state’s abortion facilities would be forced to stop performing abortions if the regulations took effect, resulting in 22,000 women losing access to abortion services. Abortion rights advocates report that 14 facilities in Texas have discontinued services as a result of the new law.
“The shattering stories of women turned away at clinic doors and denied their constitutional right to abortion are already numerous, and they multiply every single day this underhanded law is enforced," Nancy Northrup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
Proponents of the new regulations say they will help the state protect women from unsafe abortion procedures.
Meanwhile, the Texas attorney general’s office has argued that the provisions do not create an undue burden and advance the state’s interest in protecting life. Abortion opponents also emphasized in a “friend of the court” legal brief that they were able to schedule abortion procedures within a week at 14 abortion facilities in Texas. They argued that proves abortion facilities in Texas still have adequate capacity to serve Texas women and that the new regulations have not created an undue burden on women attempting to access the procedure.