Almost a month before Texas’ new abortion law is set to take effect, women’s rights groups have filed a lawsuit seeking injunctions on key provisions, which they say are unconstitutional, and endanger women’s health.
Several women’s health care clinics, along with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the requirements that doctors have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and new restrictions on abortion medication.
“If this law goes into effect, there is no doubt it will end access to safe and legal abortion for many women,” Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, told the Wall Street Journal.
The abortion law requires doctors to have admitting privileges to hospitals within 30 miles of the health care clinics. However, the political and moral controversy surrounding abortions could lead many of them to deny these privileges. The lawsuit also challenges the requirement to turn clinics into surgical centers, which opponents say would be costly, and force closures. As many as 13 of the state’s 36 clinics could shut down, opponents say.
Supporters of the law argue that it’s securing women’s health even more, since doctors will be guaranteed to have admitting privileges in case of an emergency.
“I grew up in Texas and learned pretty early on that women only got what they fought for,” Richards told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “I think folks in the state have never fought harder.”
Since the summer, the law has been the subject of widespread debate, which included a 13-hour filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis. Still, continued efforts by state Republicans were successful and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law in mid-July. Going into effect on Oct. 29, the law would also ban abortions past 20 weeks, even though Roe v Wade protects the right to an abortion until fetal viability, generally interpreted to be at at 24 weeks. Opponents decided not to challenge this provision, however, because women rarely get abortions past 20 weeks, according to MSNBC.
Some of the groups involved in the lawsuit are also fighting similar laws across the nation, including in Mississippi, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
“This law is part of a coordinated national strategy to shut down women’s health centers and outlaw abortion all across the country,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero told NPR. “In Texas and across the nation, people are standing up to tell politicians to stop interfering in a woman’s private decisions.”