by Mary Tuma
Citizens against the Texas anti-abortion law protesting at the Capitol this summer. Photo by Mary Tuma
On Nov. 4, the coalition of groups– which include Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman's Health, represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights– who are suing the state for preventing women’s access to safe, legal abortion appealed their case to the high court, the Current reported. They hoped SCOTUS would reinstate a permanent injunction on the law, previously granted by a U.S. district judge and subsequently struck down by the conservative Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel concluded a section of the four-part law requiring doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital no further than 30 miles of where the procedure is preformed to be unconstitutional and without rational basis. Yeakel also said the law would place an “undue burden on abortion seeking women.”
The admitting privileges section of the law went into effect on Nov. 1 and is already causing an estimated 12 abortion clinics to stop their services and turn dozens of women away. The coalition argue the decision to allow the law to stand leaves one in three women without access to abortion care, shutting out an estimated 20,000 patients annually.
The 5-4 decision fell down conservative/liberal lines. According to SCOTUS Blog, Justices Antonin Scalia (who represents Texas geographically from the bench) wrote a concurring opinion with Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Clarence Thomas. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justice Anthony Kennedy are presumed to have voted with the other conservative judges.
The groups say, despite the latest defeat, they’ll continue the fight.
“While we are deeply disappointed, this isn’t over. We will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women. This law is blocking women in Texas from getting a safe and legal medical procedure that has been their constitutionally-protected right for 40 years,” said Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president, in a statement. “This is outrageous and unacceptable – and also demonstrates why we need stronger federal protections for women’s health. Your rights and your ability to make your own medical decisions should not depend on your zip code.”
The Fifth Circuit is set to hear the entire case in January. Whichever side does not win could ask SCOTUS to review the case.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Greg Abbott, both vocal anti-abortion advocates, celebrated the SCOTUS decision.
"This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions,” said Perry in a release following the ruling. “As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state.”
Read the opinions here:
Denies effort to block law: Justice Scalia Concurring Opinion- Planned Parenthood v Abbott
Grants effort to block law: Justice Breyer's Dissenting Opinion- Planned Parenthood v Abbott