5th Circuit upholds Texas law against cut-and-run abortionists

Law requires abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges, requires abortion facilities to meet same safety standards as other surgical centers
Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Attorney sound bite:  Natalie Decker

NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit Tuesday upheld the Texas women’s safety law known as House Bill 2. Specifically, the court upheld a provision that requires abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as ambulatory surgical centers, and again upheld a provision that protects women against cut-and-run abortionists by requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a local hospital in the event a woman must seek hospital care due to post-abortion complications.

Alliance Defending Freedom and other pro-life organizations and physicians filed a friend-of-the-court brief in November of last year that urged the 5th Circuit to uphold the law.

“Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women’s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists,” said ADF Legal Counsel Natalie Decker. “The 5th Circuit was on firm ground to uphold this law. Its requirements are common-sense protections that ensure the maximum amount of safety for women. Abortionists should not be exempt from medical requirements that other doctors are required to follow.”

ADF joined together with Life Legal Defense Foundation; Texas Center for Defense of Life; American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Donna Harrison, M.D.; Abby Johnson; And Then There Were None; Carol Everett; and The Heidi Group to file the friend-of-the-court brief last year. Harrison provided substantial assistance in explaining the medical justification for the regulations.

“Texas’s law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital does not unduly restrict the pool of doctors who could provide abortions,” noted LLDF Legal Director Katie Short at the time the brief had been filed. “There are thousands of qualified doctors. If abortion facilities feel the pinch of this law, it’s because most qualified doctors don’t want to be abortionists.”

The brief explained that the “focus of the constitutionality [of the law] is on the treatment of women, not on the financial convenience of abortion providers…. Texas, as many other States, has clearly recognized the risks associated with both surgical and medication abortions and has taken steps to regulate these abortions to minimize these known and potential risks and to protect women’s health and safety. Texas now is (and should continue to be) permitted to do so.”

In its opinion in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the 5th Circuit wrote that the evidence demonstrates that “the State truly intends that women only receive an abortion in facilities that can provide the highest quality of care and safety—the stated legitimate purpose of H.B. 2…. Plaintiffs bore the burden of proving that H.B. 2 was enacted with an improper purpose…. They failed to proffer competent evidence contradicting the legislature’s statement of a legitimate purpose for H.B. 2…. All of the evidence [against the bill] referred to by the district court is purely anecdotal and does little to impugn the State’s legitimate reasons for the Act.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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