A federal appeals court in New Orleans is hearing arguments on the constitutionality of Texas’s restrictive abortion laws Monday. The court is just the latest stop on the measure’s increasingly inevitable march toward the Supreme Court. The legislation has already forced dozens of abortion clinics across the state to close, but thanks to an appeal by Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will consider blocking the law on constitutional grounds.
Abortion rights groups are arguing that two components of the Texas law violate a woman’s constitutional rights. One is the requirement that clinics performing abortions obtain admitting privileges from a nearby hospital, while the other is a restriction on how and when doctors may administer medical abortions.
The legislation has already traveled quite a bumpy road. After being introduced in the state Senate during a special legislative session last year, it was successfully filibustered by Wendy Davis. But then, Governor Rick Perry then called another special session, and the bill was passed. U.S. District Judge Lee Yaekel then issued a preliminary injunction against certain components of the law, effectively blocking the law until it made its way through the courts. Three days later, the 5th Circuit Court overturned Yaekel’s injunction, and the law went into effect.
Now, the law seems destined to go to the Supreme Court. Actually, it already has: after it was allowed to take effect, women’s rights groups asked SCOTUS to temporarily block the law’s implementation while it made its way through the courts. The court declined to do so, and the law was implemented — but the court did not rule on the merits of the law itself. That mirrors what’s going on today:tThe 5th Circuit Court had previously ruled against issuing a preliminary stay against the legislation; today, it will be addressing the constitutionality of the law itself.
States have been passing anti-abortion measures left and right. As Bustle has previously reported, there were more statewide restrictions on abortion passed into law last year than in the previous decade combined:
States passed 205 abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2013, compared with just 189 laws passed from 2001 to 2010.
In other words: Far from abortion being ”out of control,” as some pro-life activists claim, control of abortion is at an all-time high since Roe v. Wade became statute in 1973.
Our examination of the statistics from the Guttmacher Institute suggests states took a four-pronged approach to curtailing abortion provision between 2011 and 2013. These include targeted restrictions on abortion providers; limitations on insurance coverage of abortion; bans on abortions at 20 weeks post-fertilization (the equivalent of 22 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period); and limitations on medication-induced abortion.
What’s more, four states in particular enacted the majority of the restrictions — North Dakota, Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina — with North Dakota and Texas enacting 13 of them in 2013 alone.
Meanwhile, only one state — California — passed a law expanding abortion access.