Houston, Texas – June 9, 2015: After nearly two years since being signed into law, the Pro-Life Omnibus Bill of 2013 (House Bill 2) was upheld by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday afternoon for the second time. The same three-judge panel in New Orleans who heard arguments in January issued the opinion.
The decision upholds the Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) provision of HB 2 and another provision of the law that requires an abortionist to secure admitting privileges from a hospital within thirty miles of where he commits elective abortions.
In the opinion released by the court, the panel stated the district court that previously stalled the implementation of the Pro-Life law, “erred by substituting its own judgment for that of the legislature.” The panel came to a unanimous decision, and two of the three justices were women.
Opponents of the law have argued that the provisions of HB 2 pose an “undue burden” on abortionists by forcing abortion mills to spend large amounts of money on facility upgrades. These upgrades will ensure that, for example, emergency medical personnel can navigate the hallways with a stretcher when need arises.
The panel did allow for two exemptions to the 2013 law. One plaintiff, Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen, brought the as-applied challenge to the court and will be allowed to operate without adhering to the higher ASC safety standards. The other exemption offered applies to the abortionist operating out of the McAllen Whole Woman’s Health, Sherwood Lynn, who will not be required to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.
Although these two exemptions could lead to more abortionists bringing separate as-applied challenges to HB 2, today’s ruling marks a definitive win for Texas women. The full effect of HB 2 will allow for the protection and safety of pregnant Texans to be placed before the profits of the abortion industry.
Texas women and their preborn children will no longer be subjected to the grotesque reality inside Texas abortion facilities. Pro-Life Texans stand with Texas Right to Life in thanking our 83rd Legislature for protecting the lives of Texans—born and unborn—through the passage of HB 2. Key to this victory are Representative Jodie Laudenberg and former Senator Glenn Hegar, Governor Rick Perry and Governor Greg Abbott, as well as Attorney General Ken Paxton, who argued this case during his first week as Attorney General of Texas.
~Emily Horne, Texas Right to Life, Senior Legislative Associate
Following today’s ruling, the plaintiffs are expected to appeal the decision either to a full panel in the Fifth Circuit Court or directly to the Supreme Court of the United States.