Ongoing Controversies

U.S. court of appeals upholds controversial Texas abortion law

U.S. court of appeals upholds controversial Texas abortion law

The restrictive abortion bill passed by the Texas Legislature cleared another hurdle on March 27 when a federal appeals court upheld the law as originally written. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two key issues of House Bill No. 2: that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and new dosages on abortion-inducing drugs. 

In a statement, Gov. Rick Perry praised the court's decision. "The people of Texas have spoken through their elected leaders and in support of protecting the culture of life in our state," Perry said. "Today's court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women's health in Texas."

It's been a topsy-turvy path for the new law, made famous of course by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis' filibuster in June. In October, Judge Lee Yeakel, a federal judge in Austin, ruled the new law unconstitutional saying, "The act's admitting-privileges provision is without a rational basis."

The Fifth Circuit overturned Yeakel's decision, fast tracking it to hallowed halls of SCOTUS. On November 19, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to keep the admitting provision. With the appellate court's latest ruling, the law is poised to take effect as written. Overturning it now would require action by the U.S. Supreme Court or state legislators.

The view from the courtroom
House Bill No. 2 has been in and out of courtrooms since being passed in 2013.