Texas Court Reverses Abortion Law Ruling. What's Next?

Months after Wendy Davis became a household name for her famous filibuster against a Texas bill that aims to shut down a tremendous number of abortion clinics and limit women’s access to reproductive health, her hard work has (at least temporarily) been nullified. On Thursday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a major part of the new Texas abortion law — House Bill 2 — which is widely believed to be one of the most restrictive pieces of abortion legislation in the country.

Just three days ago, District Judge Lee Yeakel declared the bill unconstitutional for restricting women's access to abortion clinics and infringing upon doctors' rights to act in their patients' best interests.

"The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her," Yeakel wrote in a 26-page opinion.

Governor Rick Perry surely has a smile on his face this morning after fighting long and hard to make sure this bill eventually passed.

“Today's decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas," Perry said. "We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”

Although the state’s signed bill will begin to take effect immediately, constituents aren’t taking this news sitting down. Planned Parenthood is currently suing the state of Texas; challenging the part of HB 2 they say it will drastically limit access to safe abortions, especially in rural areas of the huge state.

"This fight is far from over. This restriction clearly violates Texas women's constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide," said President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards.

"If Texans showed America one thing during the historic protests against this law this summer, we demonstrated that Texans value women's health — and that is why we will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women in the wake of this ruling," Richards said.

According to a map from the Texas Tribune, only a handful of locations will meet these new requirements for “surgical centers,” leaving only about five abortion providers open in the entire, very large state. The vast majority of Texans will be left without any providers at all, especially in the western half and northern part of the state.

The Texas Policy Evaluation Project estimates that over 22,000 women won't be able to access abortion facilities due to the new regulations. It all starts today: 12 abortion clinics won't be able to perform the procedure effective immediately because of the bill.

You can sign Planned Parenthood's petition to protect women's reproductive rights in Texas here.