PACN offers insight on HB2 ruling

From the October 28 Conroe Courier:

Area leaders, citizens rebuke federal stance on state’s law

By Kimberly Sutton | Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 11:20 pm

A federal judge, appointed by President George W. Bush ruled Monday that new Texas abortion restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution, a ruling that keeps open, at least for now, dozens of abortion clinics that were set to halt operations today had the law taken effect.

In Monday’s ruling, which the state is certain to appeal, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote that the regulations requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital create an undue obstacle to women seeking an abortion.

“The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her,” Yeakel wrote.

While Yeakel, who is in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas based in Austin, found that the state could regulate how a doctor prescribes an abortion-inducing pill, he said the law did not allow for a doctor to adjust treatment taken in order to best protect the health of the woman taking it. Therefore, he blocked the provision requiring doctors to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol for the pills in all instances.

Pregnancy Assistance Center North Executive Director Cindy Sunday Powell believes everyone wants women to have the best care available.

“But, this ruling will put women at risk,” Powell said. “U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel struck down two key provisions of Texas’ House Bill 2. The two provisions he ruled unconstitutional are admitting privilege requirements and restrictions on pregnancy-ending drugs.

“It seems like any time there is a surgical procedure, the doctor should have admitting privileges at a hospital in case there is an emergency,” Powell said.

Powell believes the pregnancy-ending drug also puts women at more risk.

“Those drugs basically cause a miscarriage. Having a miscarriage at home, by yourself, could be traumatizing, especially for teenage girls,” she said.

Powell said she and the PACN staff in Conroe are saddened by Yeakel’s ruling.

“It boils down to this: Knowing women are having abortions, do you want safeguards in place so they have safer abortions? I think we all would say yes to that,” Powell said.

“I’m disappointed in the court’s ruling because Texas carefully crafted a law that protects the life and health of both the mother and the unborn. Both are important,” U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, leader of a key healthcare panel in Congress, stated in a release. “In light of the horrifying loss of lives from convicted Philadelphia physician Dr. Kermit Gosnell, it’s reasonable to require doctors to be able to admit their patients to a nearby hospital when complications arise during such a serious surgery.

“I’m confident the ruling will ultimately be overturned.”

Montgomery County Right to Life volunteer Joyce Peterson disagreed with the judge’s ruling.

“Yes, a woman should have the right to choose what to do with her body. However, her body ends where another’s begins,” Peterson said. “It is not her body that is intended to be mutilated and destroyed by abortion, but the life of an innocent child.”

“I am so disappointed in the weak judges out there who put political correctness above just, God-based decisions,” said Joe Wiegand, of Conroe, also an MCRTL volunteer.

“Attorney General Greg Abbott certainly does have his work cut out.”

“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,” Gov. Rick Perry stated in a release. “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.”

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers brought the lawsuit, arguing that a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic would force the closure of a third of the clinics in Texas. They also complained that requiring doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration’s original label for an abortion-inducing drug would deny women the benefit of recent advances in medical science.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office argued that the law protects women and the life of the fetus. Attorney General Greg Abbott was expected to file an emergency appeal of Yeakel’s order to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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