Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Texas Pro-Life Law

National Right to Life Committee, Inc.

For immediate release: Friday, November 13, 2015
For more information: Tatiana Bergum, (202) 626-8825, [email protected]

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Texas Pro-Life Law

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear a challenge to a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld most of a Texas omnibus pro-life law. At issue are two provisions of HB 2, which the Texas legislature passed in 2013, that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and that abortionists have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital for situations of medical emergencies. The latter has already gone into effect.

"The abortion industry doesn't like these laws because abortion clinics would be forced to spend money to meet basic health and safety standards" said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. "For them, this isn't about 'protecting' the women they purport to help, it's about preserving their cash flow."

On June 9, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, largely upheld the contested provisions. With minor exceptions, they concluded the provisions did not create an "undue burden" on a woman's right to abortion.

Ten days later, after the panel declined to grant the challengers a stay, the clinic filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court. On July 27, 2015, the Court voted 5-4 to put the 5th Circuit's ruling on hold. Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito voted against the delay.

The coalition of abortion providers, who brought this lawsuit, argues that the effect of the law will be to close many abortion clinics, thus creating an "undue burden" on the right of women to have an abortion.

However, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a 44-page brief to the Supreme Court:

Petitioners ignore the fact that under the Fifth Circuit's decision, which granted as-applied relief in McAllen, every metropolitan area with an abortion facility operating today in Texas will still have an operating abortion facility if the ruling takes effect

"If an abortionist closes up because he can't meet these most basic medical standards, that's a good thing for the mothers who would be targeted and the unborn children who would be killed," said Tobias.

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