There are two provisions of the Texas abortion law, HB 2, being challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Esha Bhandari, staff attorney for the center, says they are challenging the law on two fronts.
Subject to an earlier lawsuit, the provision requiring that all physicians have admitting privileges was previously challenged as it applied to the state as a whole. In the lawsuit being filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, they're challenging the admitting privileges lawsuit specifically on behalf of the women in the Rio Grande Valley, which has lost all abortion clinics there and also, on behalf of women in western Texas because one of two abortion clinics is set to close in May because of this law, says Bhandari.
They are also challenging the ambulatory surgical center requirement, set to take effect in September. Bhandari says this is an unnecessary law which mandates that all clinics either undergo costly renovations or shut down, which will reduce the number of abortion clinics in Texas to fewer than 10, all clustered in the urban eastern center.
This is the first time the court will be hearing our constitutional claims against the ambulatory surgical center requirement, says Bhandari and with respect to the admitting privileges requirement, the 5th Circuit in its opinion did leave open the possiblity of as-applied challenges on behalf of specific women and regions that are harmed in specific ways by this law.
In this suit, Bhandari says they're focusing oin the fact that the admitting privileges law has, in effect, closed all abortion clinics in the the Rio Grande Valley and these women have nowhere to go for a provider.
Critics say this law is an effort to over-regulate abortion in Texas and Bhandari says that we've seen this lawsuit shut down many clinics, as there are far fewer clinics today than before HB 2 passed. Adding another layer of regulations "means women don't have access to safe and legal abortions," says Bhandari.
Supporters says the law is about protecting women's safety. However, Bhandari says "these requirements do nothing to improve women's safety," With clinics shut down, women will be forced to travel far from their homes and if they do experience complications, they will be nowhere near the provider, so this law is actually increasing the health risk of women, Bhandari explains.
Esha Bhandari is the staff attorney for the Center For Reproductive Rights. For more information on her, click here. She spoke with the Legal Broadcast Network, providing online, on-demand, legal news video content. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of Sequence Media Group.