November 26, 2013 — A Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas clinic in Austin resumed offering abortion services on Friday after a doctor was able to comply with a new law (HB 2) that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the Austin Chronicle reports (Smith, Austin Chronicle, 11/22).
One-third of Texas abortion providers have stopped offering the procedures because they do not employ a doctor who meets the admitting privileges requirement. The clinics stopped offering the services after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October ruled that the requirement and another provision requiring that physicians be present when administering medication abortion could take effect while a case challenging the law is appealed.
After the ruling, women's health care providers filed an emergency application asking the Supreme Court to block enforcement of the law while the appeal continues. The high court in a 5-4 decision said it would not intervene, meaning that the law will remain in place at least until the 5th Circuit considers the case in January (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/22).
PPGT's South Austin surgical center is one of a handful of facilities in the state that offers abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Chronicle (Austin Chronicle, 11/22).
PPGT spokesperson Sarah Wheat in a statement said, "While we are thrilled that we are able to resume providing women with abortion in Austin -- health services that have been their constitutional right for 40 years -- there are still women throughout the state that have no option available" (Garza, Reuters, 11/22).
Group Criticizes SCOTUS' Rejection of HB2 Case
In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Physicians for Reproductive Health President and CEO Jodi Magee criticizes the Supreme Court's "fail[ure] to offer relief" in the HB2 case, adding that it "will have a lasting and deleterious effect on access to reproductive health care in Texas."
Magee writes, "The women of Texas are suffering under a medically unnecessary law that has closed all but a handful of clinics in their state." She notes that clinics that "remain able to provide services in Texas have had to expand their hours to accommodate more patients," while "[o]thers, in nearby states, are seeing an influx of women who are forced to travel hours to get the care they need, at great expense and burden to them and their families" (Magee, New York Times, 11/22).