The Austin American-Statesman reports that HB2, the omnibus anti-abortion bill signed by the Governor last July, will see a lawsuit (probably not the last) filed against it.
The bill, known in a previous session as SB5 when Wendy Davis filibustered the bill to death, does four main things. First, it moves up the general ban on elective abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. Second, it requires all abortion clinics adhere to somewhat onerous standards known as an “ambulatory surgical center” requirement. Third, it requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In this case, “nearby” is defined as thirty miles, and somewhat strict regulation for rural locations. Fourth, the bill requires the inducing drug, RU-486, to be administered in person. This, in practice, means the woman would be forced to travel to the clinic on two separate days.
Whole Women’s Health, being backed by the ACLU, has now sued the State of Texas in Federal Court to enjoin the latter two components. The suit was filed, as I predicted, in the Austin sector of Texas’ Western District Court. It alleges that these two regulations and unnecessarily burdensome, and they are the two slated to take effect in about one month’s time.
As the Statesman article notes, the ambulatory surgical center requirement does not go into effect for another 11 months, and the protocol regarding that segment is not even finalized until the beginning of next year. I am sure that a further lawsuit will be filed challenging that requirement, which perhaps is the most odious and effective part of the bill, which is obviously designed to close the clinics.
The former regulation, the 20 week-ban, as I have previous discussed, is not even all that controversial to me. However, 40 years of precedent suggest it is unconstitutional none the less. Accordingly, I am disappointed that this segment was not challenged as well. The reason it was, most likely, not challenged at this time was the independent nature of the provision. If the 20 week ban is struck out, the rest of the law would remain just fine.
But among the other three regulations, the legislation comes to resemble a three-legged stool. If one leg is removed, the entire structure comes crashing down.