On September 16, ACLU filed a motion to intervene in Franciscan Alliance v. Burwell on behalf of the ACLU of Texas and the River City Gender Alliance. In this three-part blog series, we examine why this case matters from a transgender rights, reproductive rights, and religious freedom perspective.
Last week, the state of Texas, along with others, sunk to a new low.
They filed suit in federal court challenging a federal regulation implementing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health care entities from discriminating based on race, national origin, sex, age, or disability. The states and health care providers that brought the case are demanding the right to be able to discriminate against transgender individuals who seek health care. The lawsuit also seeks a court order allowing them to discriminate against individuals who seek reproductive health care, including in state programs, like public hospitals.
Texas’s position is so extreme that they want to be able to discriminate against women by turning them away from their hospitals after they’ve had an abortion and are experiencing complications from the procedure. You don’t need to reread that last sentence. That’s really the state’s position.
It’s no surprise that Texas would want limit access to reproductive health care — at every opportunity they have tried to do so by enacting law after law that restricts abortion. It did come as a surprise to see Texas’s justification for bringing this lawsuit, however. The lawsuit claims that Texas brought the case because it “zealously protects the physician-patient relationship through numerous laws and regulations ensure [sic] that physicians honor their duties to their patients and exercise appropriate medical judgement when treating patients under their care.” Seriously? They clearly forgot to include a footnote to say “except when the medical treatment is abortion.”
The onslaught of bills restricting reproductive rights has been going on for years in Texas, and in 2013, the state tried to eliminate abortion access altogether when it passed the notorious H.B. 2. That law had multiple components, including a requirement that abortion providers have a business relationship with a local hospital that would allow them to admit patients and that abortion facilities meet hospital-like requirements related to the way their building must be configured. These requirements, and the others that came before it, were aimed to decimate access to abortion and close clinics. Fortunately, the Supreme Court eventually struck down the requirements, finding that they served no medical benefit and would harm women.
But by the time the Supreme Court reached its decision, H.B. 2 had already wreaked havoc. Clinics closed, and they will not reopen. Women faced, and will continue to face, extraordinary obstacles. Women have been forced to carry to term against their will or have felt no choice but to try to induce an abortion themselves. The effects of H.B. 2 have been disproportionately felt by Latinas and other vulnerable populations. And in a tragic turn, the mortality rate for pregnant women in Texas has doubled in recent years.
The other states that have joined the case also have dismal records when it comes to restricting access to abortion: Wisconsin (received a D+ from NARAL), Nebraska (received an F), Kentucky (received an F), and Kansas (also received an F).
So Texas and friends: You’re really concerned about government intrusion on the provider-patient relationship? Then how about you stop passing laws that prevent providers from providing women with access to abortion?
In the meantime, we’re jumping into Texas’ latest salvo against women’s rights. Everyone should be able to access health care without facing discrimination, and laws that protect that access should be lauded, not challenged by hypocritical state governments.