Texas abortion providers head to Supreme Court to fight restrictive anti-choice law

The Center for Reproductive Rights has petitioned Justice Antonin Scalia for another injunction on restrictive HB 2

Published October 7, 2014 8:12PM (EDT)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia                    (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The fight against Texas' restrictive antiabortion law, HB 2, isn't over yet. Since the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction on some of the law's strictest requirements last week, all but eight of the state's abortion clinics are able to remain open, depriving thousands and thousands of women across Texas of access to reproductive care. But it's possible the clinic closures will not last: On Tuesday, the Center for Reproductive Rights announced that it has filed an application to the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate the Fifth Circuit's stay on the district court injunction on behalf of Texas abortion providers.

The application, which is addressed directly to Justice Antonin Scalia, specifically challenges HB 2's provisions that abortion clinics operate as ambulatory surgical centers and that providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The appeals panel ruled that the requirements do not violate the "undue burden" standard, but the petition to Justice Scalia argues that the appeals court's application of the test is "demonstrably wrong." The center argues that if the decision is enforced permanently, circumstances in Texas will become dire:

If the stay entered by the Fifth Circuit is not vacated, the clinics forced to remain closed during the appeals process will likely never reopen. Further, women's ability to exercise their constitutional right to obtain an abortion will be lost, and their lives will be permanently and profoundly altered. Public health will also be adversely impacted. Texas has already seen a surge in illegal abortion in areas where legal abortion services are no longer available, and that trend will continue if the stay remains in place.

The center is requesting that Scalia put a hold on the Fifth Circuit decision while the case makes its way through the judicial system on yet another appeal, which could allow clinics to reopen in the meantime. Scalia has the option to rule on the application alone, or to open the decision to the full court. According to RH Reality Check, the state of Texas is expected to respond to the petition by Thursday afternoon.

By Jenny Kutner

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