Supreme Court Refuses to Block Texas Abortion Law

November 19, 2013 6:28 pm

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November 19, 2013

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to halt a Texas law that has forced more than a dozen of the state’s women’s health centers to stop providing abortion care, leaving large parts of the state without an abortion provider and preventing women from obtaining abortions

“We are not giving up on Texas women,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “If the constitutional right to abortion means anything, it must mean that laws like this one that prevent women from obtaining an abortion must be invalidated. This is a very disappointing decision, but we will continue to do everything we can to protect the health and rights of Texas women.”

The case will now continue in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the full merits of the case in January 2014.

On November 4, a group of health care providers filed an emergency application with Justice Antonin Scalia, asking him to temporarily block the Texas law while the case is on appeal. On October 28, the District Court permanently blocked the law, but on October 31, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the law to take effect while the case works its way through the courts. The Fifth Circuit is the only federal court to allow laws like the Texas one to take effect. Courts in Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin and North Dakota have all blocked similar laws citing the harm to women and the lack of medical justification for these laws. Major medical groups opposed the Texas law, including the Texas Hospital Association, the Texas Medical Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Lawmakers in Texas and other states have passed bills like this for the sole purpose of limiting access to safe, legal abortion, not promote women’s health,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “Since the law was allowed to go into effect in Texas, women and families have experienced its devastating impacts firsthand, especially in rural and poor areas where healthcare options were already limited. We will do everything in our power to defend the rights of Texas women and ensure the courts block this harmful law.”

The lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Abbot, was jointly filed on September 27 on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the ACLU of Texas, and Texas law firm George Brothers Kincaid & Horton.

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