In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a pro-life law passed by the Texas state legislature would be struck down because the benefits of the law were not worth impeding access to abortion. Now, Texas abortionists and pro-abortion lobbying groups are beginning an attempt to get that ruling applied to older laws.
A new lawsuit has been filed by multiple pro-abortion groups in the federal court in Austin, Texas. This complaint calls out specific state officials, such as Attorney General Ken Paxton and health services Commissioner John Hellerstedt. It also seeks to block any enforcement of the list of laws under consideration.
The laws that are being targeted cover a wide variety of issues and have been on the books for a number of years. Legal limitations like licensing standards, requirements that only doctors (not clinic staff) be able to perform abortions, required waiting periods, and required ultrasounds are all being taken aim at by this suit.
“It set a new standard of scrutiny, that states cannot pass restrictions without proof of medical evidence and scientific facts to justify them,” stated Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance (an abortion provider), in regard to the 2016 ruling. “The decision gave us leverage to look at other restrictions that Texas has long been enforcing. We call it the ‘big fix.’”
Hagstrom Miller added that while the ruling struck down the 2013 law, during the three-year period where the law was enforced, over half of Texas’ abortion providers closed their doors. Only three have reopened.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has responded to the suit, referring to it as part of a “radical pro-abortion agenda.”
“Abortion providers have been complying with the laws being challenged in this case for years. They are common-sense measures necessary to protect Texas women from unhygienic, unqualified clinics that put women’s lives and reproductive health at risk,” stated Paxton spokesman Marc Rylander.
“It is ridiculous that these activists are so dedicated to their radical pro-abortion agenda that they would sacrifice the health or lives of Texas women to further it,” he concluded.
Photo credit: Jordan Uhl via Flickr, CC BY 2.0