Texas abortion providers sue over new limits

September 27, 2013

More than a dozen abortion providers filed a federal lawsuit Friday in Texas challenging parts of the state’s controversial antiabortion law, which limits access to both surgical and medication abortions in the state.

The lawsuit seeks to strike down new requirements that abortion doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic and that all abortions must take place in surgical centers, rather than allowing women to take abortion medication at home. The plaintiffs argue that the restrictions impose an unconstitutional burden on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

The lawsuit says the requirements, which are due to take effect on Oct. 29, would end abortion services in more than a third of the state’s licensed facilities and would eliminate services altogether in Fort Worth and five other major cities.

“These requirements, individually and taken together, violate the constitutional rights guaranteed to both Plaintiffs and their patients by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit says.

The challenge was filed on behalf of 11 abortion clinics by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Texas-based law firm George Brothers Kincaid & Horton.

The lawsuit does not challenge another provision in the law banning abortions after 20 weeks, which enjoys broader public support than other abortion restrictions. That restriction is under litigation in federal court in Arizona and state court in Georgia.

Elizabeth Graham, executive director of Texas Right to Life, said “the abortion industry is signaling some major losses” by not challenging the 20-week ban.

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