Back to News & Commentary

Don't Mess with Texas Women: Fighting Back in Court Against Harmful Abortion Restrictions

Brigitte Amiri,
Deputy Director,
ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project
Share This Page
September 27, 2013

Today over a dozen health care centers filed a lawsuit challenging a new law in Texas that is designed to eliminate abortion access in the state. Texans throughout the state fought against the law’s passage, and now we are fighting the law in court. The law would have a devastating effect on women in the state, and would leave large parts of the state with no abortion provider. This would mean that women who already are struggling to pay rent and put food on the table for their families would have to travel hundreds of miles to obtain abortion care. The law must be stopped.

Our lawsuit challenges two provisions. The first requires doctors who provide abortion care to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. At first glance, this might sound reasonable. But it’s not. Abortion is extremely safe. And no other type of doctor is required to have admitting privileges. What the restriction really boils down to is a backdoor attempt to force providers to close their doors. The legislature knew how hard it would be for doctors who provide abortion to get admitting privileges because the Texas Hospital Association told them as much when it opposed the law. Even putting aside hostility to abortion in some communities that might influence a hospital’s decision to grant privileges, hospitals often impose criteria that are impossible for doctors who dedicate their lives to providing abortions for women who need them to meet. For example, many hospitals require that a doctor admit a certain number of patients each year to the hospital. But that’s the Catch-22 – abortion is so safe doctors don’t admit their patients to hospitals, so they will never be able to meet a requirement that, for example, they admit 20 patients a year.

The second provision is a restriction on medication abortion, which is a safe method of early abortion. The restriction would require doctors to follow an outdated protocol for medication abortion, which is less safe than the protocol doctors now use. This is what happens when politicians try to practice medicine: they get it wrong every time. This restriction is so severe that it will cause some providers to stop offering medication abortion altogether.

If the court does not block the law from taking effect (although we hope that it will because the law is so unconstitutional) women will suffer. Particularly young women, rural women, and poor women will suffer. Abortion care will be offered only in a few major cities, but large parts of the state will have no abortion provider. Have you looked at a map lately? Texas is a big state with lots of people, and the majority of people did not want this law. We stand with them to say, “Politicians, don’t mess with Texas women.” We’ll see you in court.

For more information on the case, check out Planned Parenthood v. Abbot.

For more information on the latest rounds of attacks on women by politicians, check out They Think We’re Stupid.

Learn more about abortion legislation and other civil liberty issues: Sign up for breaking news alerts, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Learn More About the Issues on This Page