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Full Federal Appeals Court Declines To Review Ruling on Texas' HB 2

Full Federal Appeals Court Declines To Review Ruling on Texas' HB 2

October 10, 2014 — The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday in a 12-3 decision declined to review a three-judge panel's decision to uphold two provisions of a Texas antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 10/9).

The first provision requires that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, while the other provision mandates providers follow FDA protocol, rather than the commonly used evidence-based regimen, when administering medication abortion.

Previous Rulings

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit in March ruled that the two provisions do not unduly burden women's abortion rights. In April, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a petition on behalf of a coalition of Texas abortion providers, asking the full court to review and overturn the decision. The group noted that courts in other states -- such as Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin -- have blocked similar measures (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/11).

Earlier this month, a panel of the same federal court upheld a separate provision of HB 2 that requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. That ruling resulted in the closure of more than a dozen of the state's remaining abortion clinics and left many women in the state hundreds of miles away from the nearest abortion provider (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/3).

While Texas had about 40 abortion facilities prior to the implementation of HB 2, only eight clinics remain open, according to the Texas Tribune.

Latest Ruling

The 12 circuit court judges who voted against rehearing the case did not provide an explanation for their ruling. However, Judge James Dennis in a dissent wrote that the federal court's decision to uphold the abortion restrictions "flouts" Supreme Court precedent.

In response, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards said, "Tragically, Texas has become a cautionary tale for the whole country. That's why Planned Parenthood will stop at nothing to fight these dangerous restrictions on behalf of the women that rely on us."

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's office, which is defending the law, did not comment on the ruling (Ura, Texas Tribune, 10/9).