Abortion

State Senator Wendy Davis on the floor of the Texas Senate on June 25, 2013.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

Last legislative session, House Bill 2 proved to be a landmark moment for the abortion debate in Texas. It further politicized the issue both sides of the aisle, garnered national media attention, boosted political profiles and launched campaigns.

When the debate was over and it finally passed, HB 2 established a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required clinics to be certified as ambulatory surgical centers, and forced abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. 

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Gov. Rick Perry signing the bill into law.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

June 25 marks the one-year anniversary of Sen. Wendy Davis' historic filibuster on the Texas Senate floor.

It was one year ago that Democratic Sen. Davis began an 11-hour filibuster intended to derail Senate Bill 5, a bill containing several new restrictions on abortion. While Davis' filibuster ended before the legislature adjourned, a supportive crowd in the Senate gallery erupted in cheers and screams minutes before the midnight deadline to pass SB 5 – squashing Republican efforts to pass it that night.

Nathan Bernier/KUT

Update:  Drs. Lamar Robinson and Jasbir Ahluwalia have reached a settlement [PDF] with University General Hospital Dallas. The hospital  has restored their admitting privileges, which enables them to keep providing abortions by complying with Texas' new abortion restrictions.

Original Story (April, 17, 2014): Two Texas doctors that offer abortions are challenging a hospital for revoking their admitting privileges.

Read the petition here.

In a letter, University General Hospital Dallas says granting admitting privileges to doctors who perform abortions would be disruptive to the hospital’s reputation.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Austin turned down a request to temporarily block a requirement of Texas' controversial new abortion law for clinics in El Paso and McAllen. But the judge is allowing the lawsuit to move forward – and predicts it will ultimately travel all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you bought health coverage through one of the online insurance marketplaces, you might have a tough time determining whether your plan covers abortion services.

Though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got an earful from members of Congress about the problem at a hearing last November, little's been done yet to clear up the confusion in some states.

Daniel Reese, KUT News

Abortion rights advocates have filed a petition asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its stance on a part of Texas' new abortion law.

The groups that filed the petition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. They’re asking the full Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider whether it’s constitutional to require abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

A new federal lawsuit is challenging provisions of Texas' newest abortion law. This latest suit comes less than a week after a federal appeals court ruled certain provisions of the law were constitutional and could stand.

Abortion rights advocates are seeking an immediate court order that would block the requirement that abortion doctors receive admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic. But in this lawsuit, the challenge to that provision only applies to two clinics: one in McAllen and one in El Paso.  

Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

An appeals court has upheld Texas' controversial new rules tightening rules for  abortion providers.  

The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two elements of House Bill 2. One requires abortion doctors to receive admitting privileges at a hospital 30 miles from the clinic. The other requires doctors to follow an FDA label for medically-induced abortions, which requires more face-to-face visits with a physician.

The court found both constitutional, overturning a lower court decision. You can read the whole ruling here.

What the FDA Drug Guidelines Say in Texas' New Abortion Law

Mar 11, 2014
Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

Texas’ new abortion law requires doctors to follow a specific, federally approved protocol for abortions performed using drugs, in place of a more common method.

The requirement is at issue in a case challenging the Texas law. So what exactly does the law require doctors to do?

Doctors usually have two choices for what are called medication abortions: They can follow a protocol approved by the Food and Drug Administration, or they can follow a different one based on newer scientific studies. But now in Texas, doctors are required to follow the FDA protocol. 

Sam Ortega, KUT

Women's healthcare has been a political seesaw in the Texas legislature the last few years -- from budget cuts in 2011 to budget increases in 2013.

Yesterday a Texas Senate committee heard how women's health programs were doing, with the answer falling along party lines.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, says Texas has never spent as much on women’s health as it does right now, and she says she wanted to "set the record straight" during a hearing of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee -- the committee she chairs.

Spencer Selvidge/KUT

Houston doctor Theodore Herring Jr. had his license temporarily suspended last week, after he was found to have violated a new state law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

That provision is among the ones under review by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While the law is tied up in that court, abortion doctors in Texas are still required to follow it – meaning they need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

Texas Medical Board Suspends Abortion Doctor's License

Feb 14, 2014
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A Texas doctor is without his medical license for violating a part of the state’s new abortion law. 

The Texas Medical Board temporarily suspended the license on Feb. 13 of Dr. Theodore Herring, Jr. He performed almost 270 abortions between last November and earlier February without having the required hospital admitting privileges.

It’s the first time that a Texas doctor has faced license suspension since most of the state’s abortion law's provisions went into effect in October. The law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

A federal appeals court is deciding whether certain provisions of Texas’ new abortion law are unconstitutional.

In making that decision, judges will have to weigh those provisions using what’s known as “the undue burden test.”

For two decades, judges have been weighing the constitutionality of abortion regulations using this concept.

A Fort Worth, Texas, woman who was 14 weeks pregnant when she was found unconscious and brain-dead after suffering a pulmonary embolism, has been taken off life support after a weeks-long court battle by the hospital to keep the ventilator on.

A ventilator that had kept Marlise Munoz's heart and lungs functioning for two months was switched off at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, a family attorney said.

KUT

What can happen when a delivery to a women’s health clinic in Austin doesn’t follow protocol? Today we found out when the Austin Police Department blocked off the Whole Woman’s Health on North Interstate 35. It happened after clinic staff found two envelopes taped to two different doors of the facility early this morning.

What SCOTUS Inaction Means for the Texas Abortion Ban

Jan 13, 2014
Eric Schlegel for the Texas Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is declining to take up a case involving abortion.

State officials in Arizona were appealing a lower court’s decision to strike down a state law that would have banned most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. But does the high court’s decision not to take up the case have implications on any future challenges to the 20-week ban that went into effect in Texas last year?

U.S. Appeals Court to Hear Texas Abortion Law Case

Jan 6, 2014
photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri

State officials and plaintiffs suing on behalf of Texas abortion providers are due back in court this morning.

The case being heard this morning was launched by abortion rights advocates hoping to overturn a state statute - known as HB2 - that regulates abortions. It was passed by the Texas Legislature in July and has since been tied up in a legal battle that has been appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

The Texas Department of State Health Services finalized strict new abortion regulations on Friday, claiming that none of the 19,000 public comments on the rules provided evidence that they are unconstitutional.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday not to intervene in Texas’ ongoing abortion litigation, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are working to secure access to the procedure for women across the state.

“We’re working to help make sure that our patients and women across Texas can get the services that they need,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He said Planned Parenthood staff is predominantly working to secure hospital admitting privileges for physicians who don’t have them. Staffers are also helping women who must now travel long distances to access abortion; in some cases, they are helping to offset the costs of transportation and lodging.

Todd Wiseman / Kjetil Ree for Texas Tribune

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday rejected a request by abortion providers to intervene in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new abortion regulations in Texas that took effect in November.

"Reasonable minds can perhaps disagree about whether the [U.S. 5th Circuit] Court of Appeals should have granted a stay in this case," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the 5-4 opinion. "There is no doubt that the applicants have not carried their heavy burden of showing that doing so was a clear violation of accepted legal standards — which do not include a special 'status quo' standard for laws affecting abortion."

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Update: Plaintiffs in a lawsuit aiming to block new abortion regulations in Texas have filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a lower court's injunction against portions of Texas' new abortion law. Read the entire emergency application here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23122254@N07/7305861684/

Texas abortion providers’ Monday victory was short-lived. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a federal district court ruling that found part of the state's new abortion regulations unconstitutional, meaning the provisions of House Bill 2 could take effect immediately if state officials choose to enforce them.

State Appeals Ruling Striking Down Part of Texas Abortion Law

Oct 29, 2013
Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed yesterday’s ruling striking down part of the state’s new restrictions on abortion.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics was unconstitutional. Judge Yeakel partially allowed another provision to stand, ruling a new requirement that doctors follow FDA protocol for dispensing abortion-inducing drugs was not an undue burden – unless the woman’s life was in danger due to the pregnancy.

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT News

Update: With a federal judge blocking enforcement of a key restriction on abortion in Texas, here’s reaction from Gov. Rick Perry:

“Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

NARAL Pro Choice America President Ilyse Hogue:

"We are pleased but not surprised by this development. It has been clear from day one that the laws advanced by Governor Perry and others are unconstitutional and put women at greater risk. We will continue to fight to ensure all parts of this law, and other laws restricting women's health care options, which are clearly unconstitutional are defeated."


Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A federal judge in Austin now has the task of deciding the constitutionality of certain provisions in the state’s new laws on abortion.

The state argued that the plaintiffs don’t have proof to support the claim that one-third of abortion clinics in Texas will close on Oct. 29. That’s when the provision requiring that clinic doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals goes into effect.

Andy Oldham argued on behalf of the state. He said no one can predict the future and said plaintiffs’ claims fall “like a house of cards."

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

A lawsuit attempting to block parts of a new restrictive abortion law is expected to wrap up today. Plaintiffs hope the judge will find certain provisions of the law unconstitutional. 

Plaintiffs -- including Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union, Whole Woman's Health and the Center for Reproductive Rights -- are challenging two key provisions of the abortion law, arguing each creates an undue burden on women seeking an abortion, which makes each unconstitutional.

One requires the physician to give two rounds of abortion-inducing medication to the patient in person. The second requires physicians to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where they perform the abortion.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

After sparking raucous protests and a famous filibuster, new restrictions on abortion in Texas captured the nation’s attention this summer. But the fight over abortion and women’s health is not new in Texas.

In a new piece for The Austin Chronicle, investigative reporter Jordan Smith examines how the fallout from the abortion fight impacts care options for college-aged women. Her article, “From ‘Abstinence-Only’ to Plan Z” is part of a nationwide day of reporting on women’s health and reproductive issues.  

Veronica Zaragovia, KUT

Planned Parenthood – together with several other groups -- filed a lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, in a federal court in Austin on Sept. 27. The aim is to block certain provisions of a new Texas law that restricts abortions.   

The preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 21 before U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin. 

KUT News

Update: As of today, new specific rules regulating Texas abortion facilities are available for public comment.

The rules were drafted in response to House Bill 2, the abortion-restricting Texas law that Gov. Rick Perry signed in July. As the department that regulates abortion clinics in Texas, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) wrote the specific rules after interpreting the Legislature’s intent.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for KUT News

The next stage in abortion rights advocates’ efforts to block implementation of strict new regulations on the procedure in Texas began on Friday, as the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of abortion providers across the state filed a lawsuit in federal court.

“Today's lawsuit is a united strike back against the hostile politicians who have made clear their willingness to sacrifice the constitutional rights, health and even lives of Texas women in support of their extremist ideological agenda,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. 

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