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Federal Appeals Panel Reinstates most of Texas’ HB2 which had been struck down Monday by District Judge

by | Nov 1, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

Judge Lee Yeakel

Judge Lee Yeakel

Three days after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down portions of Texas’s pro-life HB 2, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit yesterday reinstated most of the stricken provisions.

The key portion of the bill Judge Yeakel overturned required that abortionists have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic. Judge Yeakel concluded that this requirement “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”

However Judges Priscilla R. Owen, Jennifer Walker Elrod, and Catharina Haynes disagreed. “[T]here is a substantial likelihood that the state will prevail in its argument that Planned Parenthood failed to establish an undue burden on women seeking abortions or that the hospital-admitting-privileges requirement creates a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion,” they wrote in a 20-page opinion.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said, “This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women.”

Pro-life Gov. Rick Perry added, “Today’s decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas,” noting, “We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”

Yeakel’s permanent injunction also addressed chemical abortifacients. He upheld the FDA protocol requirement that limits the use of the RU-486 abortion technique to the first 49 days. (The abortion industry wants it expanded to 63 days.)

But he did hold that for women between 49 and 63 days into their pregnancy, if a surgical abortion is “in the sound medical opinion of their treating physician, a significant health risk,” they could have chemical abortions. The three-judge panel concurred.

The pro-abortion litigants warned that 13 of the state’s 32 abortion clinics would close, if the hospital admitting requirement were upheld.

Abortion providers are expected to immediately appeal the 5th Circuit’s decision.

“This fight is far from over,” Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. “This restriction clearly violates Texas women’s constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide.”

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Categories: Judicial
Tags: HB2