Groups Sue to Block Key Parts of Texas Abortion Law

More than a dozen women's health care providers in Texas sued the state Friday, attempting to block as unconstitutional key provisions of a strict new abortion law that drew massive protests and threw the Legislature into chaos before it was approved this summer.
September 30, 2013

More than a dozen women's health care providers in Texas sued the state Friday, attempting to block as unconstitutional key provisions of a strict new abortion law that drew massive protests and threw the Legislature into chaos before it was approved this summer.

The 32-page complaint was filed in Austin by the providers and Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union. The new law requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, only allows abortions in surgical centers and bans the procedure completely after 20 weeks, while also limiting medical abortions.

It was approved by the Legislature's Republican majority despite a nearly 13-hour filibuster that made Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth a national political star and amid weeks of unprecedented protests where thousands of activists on both sides of the issue thronged the state Capitol.

Opponents say the restrictions would effectively ban abortion in much of the nation's second-most-populous state. Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said Friday: "The real purpose of this law is to make it impossible for women in Texas to get an abortion."

The suit doesn't address the 20-week ban because the overwhelming majority of abortions occur earlier than that threshold. On a conference call with reporters, the groups and attorneys said they wouldn't discuss future legal strategy but also didn't rule out a possible future legal challenge to the 20-week ban.

Friday's suit also isn't challenging the surgical center rules — which providers say will force clinics to make costly upgrades or close — because they won't take effect until next year.

Instead, it seeks a temporary injunction to block requirements that doctors have hospital admitting privileges, as well as limits on medical abortions. The groups said there are currently 36 licensed facilities in Texas that perform abortions and 13 of those would be forced to stop doing so based just on the rules that take effect next month.

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