Well, that half-hearted celebration sure was premature. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has rescinded Monday’s federal ruling that had found part of Texas’s terrible abortion law unconstitutional, restoring restrictions that will have the effect of closing most of the state’s clinics.
“This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women,” Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement.
It is unknown at press time whether Abbott’s pants were literally on fire at the time.
The appeals court panel reversed Monday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, which had held that the law’s provision requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles would place an unconstitutional burden on women seeking an abortion, and also held that the state could not punish doctors who departed from specific prescribing guidelines for drug-induced abortions, which Planned Parenthood had argued were outdated and potentially harmful. The judges wrote that
“there is a substantial likelihood that the state will prevail in its argument that Planned Parenthood failed to establish an undue burden on women seeking abortions or that the hospital-admitting-privileges requirement creates a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.” Furthermore, they wrote, “we also conclude that the state has made a strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits, at least in part, as to its appeal of the injunction pertaining to medication abortions.”
The ruling was not final; Planned Parenthood’s appeal of the law will continue to go forward in the 5th Circuit. It was initially unclear whether the state would enforce the new restrictions while the case goes on, but Dallas station KDFW reports this morning that a dozen clinics across the state will close, starting today, leaving women in large sections of the state without access to abortion services.
Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement saying
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“Today’s decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas … We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”
Women who are forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term are expected to be just delighted about that whole “culture of life” thing, maybe; should the law stay in effect, little comment is expected from those planning to die from sepsis following illegal procedures.
Planned Parenthood has filed a request with the 5th Circuit for an emergency stay of yesterday’s ruling, arguing that
“Allowing the admitting privileges requirement to go into effect, even for a few weeks or months, would decimate the availability of abortion services in the state”
The request notes that up to a third of abortion providers in the state would be forced to cease operations, forcing women to continue unwanted pregnancies and to wait longer for procedures, increasing the risk of complications.
Then again, these women have already been born, so that “culture of life” stuff obviously does not apply to them. In the meantime, Texas women are left wondering whether the courts will find a way to take their rights and shut that whole thing down.