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Abortion Rights Advocates Back in Court to Challenge House Bill 2

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT
Abortion rights advocates are back in court on Aug.4, 2014 to argue against two provisions of the state’s new abortion law.";

Abortion rights advocates are going back to court today to argue against two provisions of the state’s new abortion law. This isn’t the first time U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel has heard arguments against the newest abortion law in Texas, HB2. He struck down two provisions last year, but an appeals court overturned his decision in March.

This time, the law’s opponents are going after a provision that goes into effect in less than a month.

"We’re challenging the requirement that all reproductive health care facilities that offer abortions have to become ambulatory surgical centers by Sept. 1," says Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights. She argues HB2 doesn’t protect women, because it’s shutting down clinics across the state that can’t afford to enlarge their hallways, add parking spaces, bathrooms and temperature controls – some of the required features of these surgical centers.

"Abortion is a very safe procedure and it’s far safer than many other procedures that happen in an outpatient clinic or doctor’s office setting," Bhandari says.

Those who support the law, however, say abortion is actually no small procedure.

"An abortion is a major medical procedure," says State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, the law's author. "You want the same quality of care and the same high standard of the environment that you would want for any other surgical operation that she’s going through. Why would that not be good for a woman?"

Lawyers with the Texas Attorney General’s office might make that argument to convince Judge Yeakel to rule in the state’s favor.

The plaintiffs are also challenging the requirement that abortion doctors get admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic, but they’re only taking issue with that requirement when it comes to physicians in McAllen and El Paso.

A ruling is expected to come before new requirements are set to take effect on Sept. 1.

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