By Emily Lataif
On Thursday, Oct. 2 the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana stayed a lower court’s ruling that had prevented the implementation of the last part of House Bill 2 (HB2), the Texas legislature’s “omnibus” abortion bill of June 2013. As a result, 13 abortion clinics around the state of Texas will close their doors, leaving only seven open.
A little over a year ago, the Texas legislature passed HB2 signed by Governor Rick Perry (R). It placed the following four restrictions on abortion clinics:
1) All abortion doctors must have admitting privileges in a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.
2) All abortion-inducing drugs must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
3) Abortions may not be performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy
4) All abortion clinics must be ambulatory surgical centers (ASC).
Abortion providers asked U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel to block this last portion of the law because of the burden it places on clinics. Many abortion clinics must widen their hallways to accommodate a hospital gurney, among other requirements of ASCs. In August, Yeakel ruled in favor of the abortion clinics and blocked the last provision just three days before the law was scheduled to go into effect.
The state — led by gubernatorial front-runner and current Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) — immediately filed for emergency relief from the ruling, asking that the state be able to proceed with implementing the law while the law’s constitutionality was being decided. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals consented to this in its Oct. 2 ruling. However, its final ruling on the constitutionality of the law will not be handed down until January after the court has heard the appeal from the abortion providers. This latest ruling allows the law to go into effect for the time being.
In a statement, Karen Garnett of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee, the pro-life arm of the Diocese of Dallas, said, “We are elated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling allowing this much needed protection for women’s health and safety to go into full effect. The abortion industry should not be an exception to common-sense and common-place health standards in Texas.”
An oft-cited example by pro-life advocates of the exception abortion clinics are granted is that of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. The Philadelphia based doctor was convicted last year on three counts of murder after policemen inspecting an unrelated incident in the clinic found jars containing the remains of aborted infants. The three infants were born alive and then killed, but prosecutors believed dozens more were also killed similarly. The subsequent investigation found a plethora of health violations, among them blood on the beds and walls and unsterilized equipment. According to a Fox News article, Pennsylvania authorities had not conducted routine inspections of abortion clinics in 15 years by the time Gosnell was convicted. Gosnell was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter of a woman who died due to a drug overdoes during an abortion procedure.
Alternatively, abortion providers claim the measures taken by the Texas lawmakers are not in the interest of women’s health but rather in shutting down clinics.
“Tragically, Texas has become a cautionary tale for the whole country,” said Cecile Richards, the head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “That’s why Planned Parenthood will stop at nothing to fight these dangerous restrictions on behalf of the women that rely on us.”
For many years, the University of Dallas’ Crusaders for Life Club (CFL) could be found every Saturday morning praying outside of Abortion Advantage, a clinic run by Dr. Lamar Robinson. Because his clinic is not an ASC, he will no longer be performing abortions for the time being. CFL has moved its “Prayerful Presence” outreach ministry to a new Planned Parenthood clinic in South Dallas. Prayerful Presence coordinator, senior Laura Jauregi is hopeful about what this could mean for the club’s mission.
“Hopefully the closing of Robinson’s will help students understand that fighting for the pro-life cause really makes a difference,” she said.