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Texas Groups Respond to 5th Circuit Court Reversal of Abortion Law

Late Thursday night on All Hallow's Eve, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an injunction on House Bill 2, the abortion law that would block access to healthcare to a third of all Texas women. Earlier in the week on Monday, District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that part of House Bill 2 was unconstitutional because it places an undue burden on women who seek the procedure. This injunction was reversed on Thursday by the 5th Circuit, allowing for the bill to go into effect almost immediately. 

The Texas Tribune reported on Friday:

"After the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision Thursday to lift an injunction on new abortion regulations in Texas, at least nine abortion facilities — about a quarter of the state's abortion providers — have discontinued abortion services in light of the new law.

The court’s decision is “having an immediate impact starting today, and what that impact is depends on each woman and where she lives,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood has discontinued abortion services at four Texas locations: Fort Worth, Austin, Waco and Lubbock. Wheat said staff members began calling patients to cancel appointments Thursday evening soon after the appellate ruling came down."

Below are press statements from:

  • American Civil Liberties Union 
  • The National Council of Jewish Women
  • Whole Women's Health
  • Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas
  • NARAL Texas 

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American Civil Liberties Union:

“Last week’s court decision allowing this extreme measure to take effect has already begun to hit the state of Texas like a tsunami, taking away vital health services from women,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The women of Texas are counting on the Supreme Court to ensure they have access to the care they need.”

"Over the last couple of days, women who made the complex and deeply personal decision to have an abortion showed up at their doctor’s appointment and could not get a safe and legal medical procedure that has been their constitutionally protected right for 40 years. We’re asking the Supreme Court to stop Texas’ dangerous and extreme law from taking effect because your rights — your very ability to make your own medical decisions — should not depend on your zip code,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 

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The National Council of Jewish Women

NCJW CEO Nancy K. Kaufman released the following statement:

“The decision by a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the new Texas anti-abortion law is appalling. The law requires clinics providing abortion services to use only doctors who have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals. The requirement is onerous, completely unnecessary, and opposed by medical bodies. In many locations it is impossible to meet. The court’s action will force one-third of Texas clinics providing abortion services to close.  Women who live in major population centers including the cities of Fort Worth, Harlingen, Killeen, Lubbock, McAllen, and Waco will be left without access to clinics. Indeed making abortion inaccessible is the point of the law, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry has stated." 

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Whole Women's Health:

Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO, Founder and President of Whole Woman's Health stated:

 "We are devastated by the Appellate Court ruling. By not upholding the admitting privileges injunction, the courts have given us no choice but to roll out our contingency plans for the discontinuation of abortion services in our McAllen, Fort Worth, and San Antonio facilities effective immediately. This is heartbreaking for us on many levels. Women who need our care will now have nowhere to turn and the staff and physicians in our clinics now face furlough and likely unemployment. This law affects real people, real lives and real families." 

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Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas:

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“This fight is far from over. This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide.  If Texans showed America one thing during the historic protests against this law this summer, we demonstrated that Texans value women’s health — and that is why we will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women in the wake of this ruling.”

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NARAL Pro-Choice Texas:

Tomorrow, there won't be a single clinic open in Fort Worth or the Rio Grande Valley, in Lubbock or Waco or Killeen. More clinics will close in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. The clinics that remain open will be met with both an increase in need for their services and the challenge of meeting that need with fewer providers, because not all the doctors who have been working at these clinics have admitting privileges. Many women will not be able to get the care they need or will have to wait longer for appointments, pushing them further along in their pregnancies, putting them at risk.

The 5th circuit will hear oral arguments in January, but the three judge panel has made it clear in their opinion how they'll rule. It's important to note that Justice Priscilla Owen was on this panel. Owen is a controversial justice who has made her view on women's reproductive rights no secret. This opinion was ideologically based, not based on the law. The evidence at trial clearly supported the district court judge's conclusion that the admitting privileges requirement is an undue burden on women.

We are at a crisis point in our state and with the courts. There are multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court, but Senators Cornyn and Cruz are blocking any appointments.  We need more women, more fair judges who put the law above their personal, political viewpoints. It is a shame that women will have to suffer and may die because ideology and extreme political aspirations have run amok.

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