13 Abortion Clinics Forced to Close Overnight in Texas
Thirteen abortion clinics in Texas were forced to close overnight as a result of a Thursday ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Texas, the second largest and the second most populous state in the country, will now have only eight abortion clinics to serve its more than five million women of reproductive age.
The decision upheld Texas’ House Bill 2’s requirement that abortion clinics meet ambulatory surgical center standards. These centers are hospital-like centers abortion providers say are unnecessary for a relatively simple procedure that often takes five to ten minutes.
This ruling by a three-judge panel overturns U.S. District Court’s Judge Lee Yeakel’s August decision that found HB2’s surgical center rule unconstitutional. He said that the rule placed an undue burden on women trying to access abortion services and that the reduction of clinics in such a large state functioned “just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.”
This is the second time the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, a notoriously conservative federal appellate court, has overturned Yeakel’s rulings. Several months ago, they overturned his decision that HB2’s admitting-privileges rule was also unconstitutional.
HB2 has already closed half of Texas’ abortion clinics. The state went from 41 in June 2013 to 20 in June 2014. Today, the state has eight.
Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, issued this statement:
It is gravely disappointing that the 5th Circuit has put ideology above the law. HB2 is an undue burden on Texans’ access to safe, legal, and timely abortion care and was efficiently designed to close abortion clinics, not to protect the health and safety of Texans. HB2 puts Texans’ health at risk. We are already seeing that Texans are suffering because of HB2, and with the closure of all but eight abortion clinics in a state as large and populous as Texas, the effects will be devastating. Without timely access to safe and legal abortion care, patients are pushed further into their pregnancies and many have to travel long distances to get to a clinic. When the need for abortion stays the same, but there are fewer reputable providers available, it creates the space for illegal providers and unsafe self-abortion care.