DALLAS, JUNE 29, 2015
-- The Supreme Court of the United States has granted an emergency motion to stay the June 9th ruling of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finding provisions of Texas law House Bill 2 constitutional, specifically the requirement that Texas abortion facilities meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers and that abortionists in McAllen and El Paso maintain local hospital admitting privileges. This order by the Supreme Court, while not on the merits, will delay the
complete enforcement of the law while abortion providers submit an appeal to the Court. (Order available here) The abortion providers have 90 days from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' June 9th ruling to file their appeal petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case on its merits. A majority vote of the Court would then be required in order for the case to be reviewed by the Court on its merits.
Karen Garnett, Executive Director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee, commented on today's development:
"We were elated by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' June 9th ruling finding the provisions of HB 2 constitutional, thus paving the way for the law's long-awaited enforcement to ensure abortion providers are held to the same basic safety standards required of medical providers in Texas. As expected, the abortion industry is continuing its effort to evade these standards by seeking relief from the U.S. Supreme Court. Today's initial ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the enforcement of the Fifth Circuit's ruling during the pendency of the anticipated appeal is a disappointing, but temporary, delay. We remain hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately respect the will of the people in Texas as enacted by their elected representatives and permit the full enforcement of this law that is critical to the protection of women in this state."
By way of background:
On June 9, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously to uphold virtually all of HB 2 in an appeal brought by the State of Texas to reverse a ruling by a district judge in Austin barring the full enforcement of HB 2. The appeal arose out of a lawsuit brought by Texas abortion providers challenging the HB 2 requirement that all Texas abortion facilities meet the standards set for ambulatory surgical centers (ASC) and the abortionist admitting privileges requirement as applied to McAllen and El Paso abortion facilities. Judges Edward Prado, Catharina Haynes and Jennifer Elrod heard the appeal and concluded:
"H.B. 2 and its provisions may be applied throughout Texas, except that Supreme Court precedent requires us to partially uphold the district court's injunction of the ASC requirement as applied to the Whole Woman's Health abortion facility in McAllen, Texas, and to uphold the district court's injunction of the admitting privileges requirement as applied to Dr. Lynn when he is working at the McAllen facility." (Opinion in full available here)