Texas asks federal court to dismiss suit against decades of pro-life laws
AUSTIN, Tesas, January 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Attorneys for Texas and for state abortion companies and activist groups appeared in federal court Monday to argue for and against dozens of pro-life laws challenged in a wide-ranging lawsuit.
In June, attorneys representing the infamous Texas abortion provider Whole Woman’s Health filed a lawsuit against the state’s pre-abortion ultrasound requirement, informed consent, parental consent, 24-hour waiting period, licensing standards, requirement that abortions be committed only by doctors rather than clinic staff, mandatory reporting of complications, and more.
They argued the laws, some of which have been on the books for up to 20 years, were unconstitutional for the same reason the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s admitting privileges and building standards mandates in 2016: that all are allegedly burdensome and medically unnecessary.
The two sides squared off before U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday, Dallas News reports. The suit backed by Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Davis’ Deeds Not Words, and the Dallas-based Afiya Center argued, “Abortion patients and providers now face a dizzying array of medically unnecessary requirements that are difficult, time-consuming, and costly to navigate — sometimes prohibitively so.”
“These are laws that have been on the books for years and are common across states. It’s absurd that these laws cause substantial burdens,” state attorney Beth Klusmann responded. “There are no sufficient facts to explain why the laws are burdensome. It would be a large waste of time and resources for the state to continue this case.”
State Attorney General Ken Paxton has also called on the court to toss the lawsuit, releasing a statement declaring it “outrageous that these activists are so dedicated to their radical pro-abortion agenda that they want the courts to repeal laws enacted by the Texas Legislature to protect the health of women getting abortions.”
He pointed out that several of the laws in question have already been upheld by the Supreme Court, and that they are common across the nation – 40 states forbid non-physicians from committing abortions, all but six have some form of parental involvement requirement, and 29 require women to be given information prior to abortion.
While modern Supreme Court precedent falsely asserts that the Constitution contains a right to abortion, the court has also repeatedly recognized a legitimate state interest in protecting both prenatal life and women’s safety. Among the pro-life laws upheld since Roe v. Wade are 24-hour waiting periods, bans on non-physician abortions, parental notification and consent, excluding abortion funding from state Medicaid programs, and informed consent.
Yeakel, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, reportedly took issue with aspects of both sides’ presentations, questioning why the state needed 73 pages to make its case and why the abortion lawyers didn’t have any detailed allegations from women attesting that they’ve been harmed by the requirements. After a 30-minute argument from each side, Yeakel concluded the session and said they would re-convene if the record so far was insufficient to make a ruling.
Despite being at the center of nationally-watched legal battles over the years, Whole Woman’s Health’s own record on health and safety tends to be overlooked in most media coverage. Pro-lifers argue the organization’s history of health and safety violations demonstrates the necessity of the laws it opposes.
Last year, a Texas Department of State Health Services report identified numerous offenses at the chain from 2011 to 2017, including rusty equipment, failing to properly disinfect and sterilize instruments between use, lacking proper written operation procedures, improper storage of hazardous chemicals, unsanitary surfaces, failing to follow up with patients, holes in the floor, and more.