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Cartoon on abortion waiting period by Nicole Hollander. One use only.
Despite the filibustering efforts that put Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis into the limelight and ultimately into the governor's race, lawmakers in the Lone Star State passed a law containing draconian new restrictions on abortion in June. On Monday, foes of the law made their case to U.S. District Judge Earl "Lee" Leroy Yeakel, a 2003 appointee of George W. Bush.

If they don't succeed in persuading him to block it, the law will go into effect next week. Yeakel ordered an expedited two-day trial in the case. The lawsuit was initiated by Planned Parenthood, which is under attack in numerous states including Texas.

If cleared by the courts, the law will ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital surgical centers do, and mandate that any doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away. Laws with some or all of these provisions have passed in more than a dozen other states. This has forced the closing of some abortion clinics—which, despite bloviations about protecting women's health, is the fundamental intent of the laws' backers. In Texas, at least three clinics have already closed their doors or stopped taking new appointments for abortions because they cannot meet the new restrictions.

Kathy Lohr at NPR reported Friday that the restrictions would even affect a new $6.5 million Planned Parenthood facility in Fort Worth, Davis's home turf. The center, with its three surgical suites, was designed to meet the new building standards that activists saw were coming.

If the law passes court muster, however, the gleaming new Fort Worth center might still not be able to perform abortions. The physician on staff has hospital admitting privileges, but not for a hospital that is within the 30-mile limit. Doctors at many other Texas abortion clinics can't obtain admitting privileges because the nearby hospitals may require the doctor to live in the local area or to admit a certain number of patients a year. Some hospital administrations simply object to abortion period and won't grant admitting privileges to abortion providers.

You can learn more about the situation in Texas by reading below the fold.

In Judge Yeakel's court Monday:

“[The law] turns back the clock two decades,” testified Dr. Paul Fine, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

But Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell said the law does not place undue burdens on abortion patients. [...]

Mitchell readily acknowledged the law presents new obstacles, but said that the state can legally impose them as part of its desire to persuade women to reconsider abortion and “opt for childbirth.”

If Judge Yeakel gives the law a thumbs-up, many more clinics, including the far smaller West Texas Planned Parenthood clinic in Lubbock, 300 miles from Fort Worth, are very likely to be shuttered.
Just outside the [Lubbock] clinic on a recent crisp morning, a few protesters stand holding signs. Krysten Haga says she sees the law as a first step, not as the end of this debate.

"I'd like to see abortion completely banned in the United States," Haga says. "That's ideally what we're looking for — is for abortion to not be an option at all."

That is the goal of the majority of Texas lawmakers and lawmakers in at least a couple of dozen other states. Closing clinics doesn't just mean women won't be able to obtain abortions without major hassles. It means other health services—such as the birth control advice, pills and devices that reduce the need for abortion in the first place—will be lost as well.

To the ideologues in Texas and elsewhere, that loss makes no never mind. Because, all their self-righteous blather aside, it's not women's health and well-being that they care about.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Oct 25, 2013 at 11:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans, Pro Choice, and Daily Kos.

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