October 12, 2016 — The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) last week requested $4.5 million in attorneys' fees and other costs incurred in the organization's successful lawsuit against provisions in Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2), the Texas Tribune reports (Ura, Texas Tribune, 10/8).
The case, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, centered on two provisions of the law. One required abortion clinics in the state to meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and the other required abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
CRR, which represented the group of abortion providers challenging the law, argued that the restrictions are unconstitutional, create an undue burden for Texas women who live far away from the nearest clinic and do not promote the state's interest in improving health. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the provisions, ruling that they violated the U.S. Constitution by imposing an undue burden on a woman seeking abortion care (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/27).
Other provisions in the law not challenged in the case remain in effect, including a ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/18).
CRR filed its request with U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who oversaw the lawsuit before it reached the Supreme Court. The state has until Nov. 4 to file a response. At that point, Yeakel will decide whether CRR can recoup any of the requested costs.
CRR President and CEO Nancy Northup said, "Time and again, politicians in Texas have proven to be as reckless with taxpayer dollars as they are with the health and well-being of the people they serve."
According to the Tribune, the state's defense of HB 2 and other abortion-rights restrictions has already cost Texas taxpayers $1 million, including $768,722 for Whole Woman's Health and $311,355 for an earlier lawsuit -- Planned Parenthood et al. v. Abbott -- that challenged only the admitting privileges requirement (Texas Tribune, 10/8).