September 8, 2015 — A coalition of abortion providers in Texas on Wednesday asked the Supreme Court to review their case against two provisions in an omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), the Texas Tribune reports (Ura, Texas Tribune, 9/2).
The case centers on a provision in the law that requires abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. The case also involves whether abortion facilities in El Paso and McAllen should be exempt from a separate provision in the law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/30).
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the group of abortion providers, argued that HB 2 was unconstitutional, created an undue burden for Texas women who lived far from the nearest clinic, and did not promote the state's interest in improving health. The state contended that HB 2's abortion restrictions were "reasonable measures" to advance women's health that would not create an undue burden for women (Texas Tribune, 9/2).
In June, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law's ambulatory surgical centers provision and admitting privileges requirements except in the case of one clinic, Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, Texas.
Later that month, CRR asked the 5th Circuit to stay the decision while the clinics appeal to the Supreme Court. The 5th Circuit rejected the request. CRR then filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to stay the lower court ruling and allow the clinics to remain open pending CRR's appeal.
The Supreme Court in late June temporarily blocked HB 2's ambulatory surgical center requirement. There was debate about whether the high court's order also blocked the law's admitting privileges requirement (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/30).
In the appeal, the group of abortion providers asked the Supreme Court to permanently block the ambulatory surgical center requirement. They also asked the high court to permanently block the admitting privileges provision, expanding on their original challenge, which aimed to block that provision only for the clinics in El Paso and McAllen (Texas Tribune, 9/2).
According to AP/Dallas Morning News, the high court has not yet officially agreed to review the case. However, the Supreme Court's order in June to block certain provisions of the law indicates the justices likely will consider the lawsuit (AP/Dallas Morning News, 9/2). The Supreme Court's new term starts next month.
Cynthia Meyer, spokesperson for the state attorney general, said the state would file a response to the appeal (Texas Tribune, 9/2).