NEW ORLEANS, LA, November 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – As many as 12 abortion facilities will not be able to perform any abortions starting today, after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court and ruled that all the provisions of a Texas pro-life law could go into effect immediately.
The ruling came just three days after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down sections of H.B. 2, the bill that took center stage in the culture wars this summer.
Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and a coalition of state abortionists sued over two of the law's key provisions, requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility and to follow FDA guidelines in administering RU-486.
Judge Yeakel ruled Monday that tightening the quality of care “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”
In a unanimous 20-page decision, a panel acknowledged that the law “may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions,” but added that “the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion” does not invalidate the law.
The law will go into effect immediately, pending a full court hearing anticipated in January.
Due to the ruling, “abortion will no longer be available in vast stretches of Texas,” Planned Parenthood said, “including the cities Lubbock, Fort Worth, Waco, McAllen, Harlingen, and Killeen.”
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Amanda Harrington stated, “We believe there are currently 36 health centers in Texas that provide abortions, and one-third will be forced to stop those services tomorrow.” But Harrington told the New York Times so far four abortion facilities had failed to secure admitting privileges – and that they will remain open for the time being but will not perform abortions.
Lawyers told Judge Yeakel that only 15 of the 32 hospitals abortionists asked for admitting privileges even accepted the applications.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life said the ruling allows “common-sense limits on abortion to go into effect, protecting women from the back alley abortion conditions that exist in too many clinics today,” adding the law's standards should be a “low bar” for abortionists to meet.
The state's pro-life leaders agree. “The provisions being challenged in court are intended to keep Gosnell-like predators out of Texas. Ironically, one of the abortion providers for the plaintiffs testified in the hearing last week that he had secured such privileges at a number of hospitals, inadvertently helping the defense,” said Elizabeth Graham, director of Texas Right to Life. “This is a historic week in Texas for the Pro-Life cause, for women’s health, and most importantly, for the unborn.”
“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,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is presently seeking the Republican party's nomination for governor.
Retiring Governor Rick Perry, who signed the bill, said, “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.”
But the abortion lobby vowed to continue its court challenge.
“This fight is far from over,'' Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Thursday night, adding the law “clearly violates Texas women's constitutional rights.”
“Any one of these restrictions would have a devastating impact across the state of Texas,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Together they would be catastrophic.”
Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, called such things as admitting privileges and the proper regimine for administering RU-486 “deeply personal decisions” best “made by a woman, her family, and her doctor, not by a politician sitting in the capitol.”
The judges upheld one of Yeakel's rulings, allowing abortionists to violate FDA standards when administering abortion-inducing drugs to woman between 50 and 63 days gestation if their life or health is at risk.
The bill's other provisions – banning abortion for viable unborn children after 20 weeks on the grounds the fetus is able to feel pain and forcing abortion facilities to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers – were not challenged. The 20-week ban is already in effect; the surgical requirements will not be enforced until next year.
The law became a national flashpoint this summer, as pro-abortion demonstrators shouted down lawmakers, preventing them from passing the bill, and State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered for hours. The moves only delayed its eventual passage, after Governor Perry called a special legislative session.
And as of today, it is in effect statewide.