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LA Times: Supreme Court Should 'Strike Down' HB 2, Clarify That Such Laws 'Are Unconstitutional'

July 6, 2015 — The Supreme Court's decision last week to put an "onerous new antiabortion law [HB 2]" in Texas on hold while deciding whether to review the case "was not just a welcome course of action for women in that state" but "also a promising indication that the court is concerned about the burdensome and unnecessary law," a Los Angeles Times editorial states.

Among other provisions, the law "requires clinics to be outfitted as ambulatory surgical centers and doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals." According to the editorial, "If the law had gone fully into effect [last] Wednesday, it would have shuttered 10 more abortion clinics and left Texas with just nine clinics operating."

The editorial contends that HB 2, "[l]ike similar restrictions on abortion passed in other states ... is nothing more than an attempt to curtail constitutionally protected access to the procedure -- justified on the cynical pretext of protecting women's health and safety."

The editorial notes that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association "filed a brief in 2013 opposing the law after it was passed" that stated that abortion is "'one of the safest medical procedures performed in the [U.S.],'" with "less than 0.3% risk of major complications following an abortion." ACOG and AMA's "brief said there was no medically sound reason for Texas to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges or to impose more stringent requirements on facilities providing abortions than on those providing procedures with similar or greater risks -- including colonoscopies, vasectomies, dental extractions and laser eye surgeries," the editorial states.

According to the editorial, "In some other states that have required admitting privileges and surgical center standards, abortion providers and women's health advocates have successfully challenged the laws" or, when such challenges "have been unsuccessful," they "sometimes ... have negotiated with regulators or applied for waivers to the laws." However, the editorial notes that "Texas stands out for being a state with some of the most stringent requirements for abortion facilities."

The editorial urges the Supreme Court to review the case, "strike down this law and make clear that the Texas law and others like it that purport to protect women's health and safety instead put an undue burden on those seeking abortion, and are unconstitutional" (Los Angeles Times, 7/1).