Admitting privileges requirement will continue to deny Texas women of constitutional rights while case is heard at Fifth Circuit
Thousands of women will continue to be denied their constitutional rights and access to abortion services in Texas following an order issued today by a majority of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to reinstate an injunction blocking a measure that has forced approximately one-third of the state’s licensed health centers providing safe and legal abortion to immediately stop.
In dissenting from the Court’s majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: “Although the injunction will ultimately be reinstated if the law is indeed invalid, the harms to the individual women whose rights it restricts while it remains in effect will be permanent.”
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“The shattering stories of women turned away at clinic doors and denied their constitutional right to abortion are already numerous, and they multiply every single day this underhanded law is enforced.
“The promise of our constitution and our judicial system is the equal protection of our rights against attacks like this law singling out women and the doctors they depend on. Today’s decision fundamentally fails to fulfill that promise for Texas women.
“We stand with Texas women and remain committed to protect women’s health and rights in continuing the fight against this unworkable, unconscionable, and unconstitutional law.”
Today’s order from the U.S. Supreme Court is in response to reproductive health care providers emergency application filed on November 1. A panel of judges on the Fifth Circuit will hear the case’s appeal in January 2014.
The provision, which took effect on October 31 after a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed a lower court’s injunction, requires all abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital—a measure that has halted abortion services at more than a dozen clinics across Texas.
Immediately after U.S District Judge Lee Yeakel issued an injunction against the measure on October 28, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott appealed the decision and asked the appellate court to lift the injunction put into place by Judge Yeakel’s decision pending the outcome of the appeal. The Fifth Circuit granted the state’s request late on October 31, allowing the state to immediately start enforcing the unconstitutional admitting privileges requirement while the case challenging the law proceeds.
The lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Abbot, was jointly filed on September 27 on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Texas law firm George Brothers Kincaid &, Horton.