Despite state legislators’ efforts to derail abortion restriction legislation, last summer Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) signed a drastic overhaul law of Texas’ already restrictive regulations on access to abortion clinics.
The law includes prohibitive and unnecessary restrictions, such as building standards for clinics that perform abortions, restrictions on medical abortions, and an almost total ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
However, a recent decision by federal judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court in Austin struck down a key feature of the law.
This particular rule of the law states that doctors that do not have admitting privileges at a local hospital cannot perform abortions. After reviewing the evidence, Judge Yeakel found that “the act’s admitting-privileges provision is without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
But then the higher court overruled Yeakel’s pronouncement, because the provision was ostensibly to protect women’s health and “not designed to strike at the right itself,” brushing off the fact that it “has the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion.”
The result has been a drastic and immediate change for women across the state.
One-third of the state’s 36 clinics that perform abortions have been forced to close, including several in remote areas.
Opponents of the change argue that this will eliminate access to the procedure for 22,000 women across the state.
Organizations such as Planned Parenthood and the Center For Reproductive Rights have already appealed the case to the Supreme Court to get the clinics open as soon as possible. At the moment, their efforts have been stalled by Justice Scalia, who gave state attorneys until November 12 to respond to an emergency request filed by the groups to halt the admitting rights regulation.
While the legality of this law makes its way to the highest court, the fact remains that currently about 33 percent of the state of Texas does not have access to abortion clinics.