New York Times Editorial Warns of 'Tenuous State' of Abortion Access

January 9, 2014 — A recent court hearing over a provision in a larger antiabortion-rights law (HB 2) in Texas demonstrated the "tenuous state of women's basic right to make their own childbearing decisions," a New York Times' editorial states.

The provision requires abortion providers in Texas to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The provision "immediately forced 12 of the state's 34 abortion clinics to stop offering the procedure" when it took effect, although "four subsequently resumed services" when doctors were able to obtain admitting privileges, the Times states, citing data from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

"The Texas law is part of the surge of anti-abortion measures -- in the guise of health and safety protections or based on a scientifically dubious theory of fetal pain -- approved in Republican-controlled states over the past three years," the editorial adds, noting that a report from the Guttmacher Institute found that 22 states enacted 70 different abortion restrictions in 2013 alone.

The editorial notes that the three-judge panel that heard arguments on Monday in the Texas case included two judges -- Jennifer Walker Elrod and Catharina Haynes -- who overturned an earlier injunction against the measure and Judge Edith Jones, who has a "record of hostility to abortion rights."

The judges' "questions and comments at the hearing showed indifference to forcing women, many of them poor and in isolated parts of the state, to travel hundreds of miles round-trip to obtain safe and legal abortion care," the editorial argues.

"To stand a chance of rolling back these restrictions" in Texas and elsewhere, "supporters of abortion rights will need to fight harder and more nimbly than ever on three fronts -- in the courts, in legislatures and at the ballot box," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 1/8).