AUSTIN, Texas — Dozens of pro-life laws in Texas are being challenged in a lawsuit claiming that they pose an undue burden on women, but a national pro-life group says abortion regulations are important for women’s health and safety.
Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said she believes that the courts will agree that the existing laws are constitutional, protect the interests of women and do not constitute an “undue burden” on women.
“Americans United for Life expects the federal courts involved in these lawsuits to recognize these critical interests and protect the lives of women seeking abortion through reasonable, constitutional health and safety regulations,” she told CNA.
Some of the laws being challenged by the suit include those requiring an abortion to be performed by a doctor, mandating that a women view an ultrasound and wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion, and requiring the parents of a minor consent before her abortion.
The suit also seeks to legalize telemedicine abortions, in which a doctor communicates with a patient through a video conference for a medical abortion. Presently, this practice is banned in Texas.
In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 2013 Texas law that required abortions to take place in a surgical center and required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. These requirements were interpreted by the Supreme Court to be an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.
The 2013 law saw over half of the state’s abortion facilities shut down, and since then, only three have resumed operations.
Plaintiffs in the current case are hoping to use the 2016 ruling as precedent to challenge other pro-life laws in the state.
The plaintiffs in the current case are Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the Afiya Center, Fund Texas Choice, the Lilith Fund, the Texas Equal Access Fund, the West Fund and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, who is the medical director at Whole Woman’s Health Alliance. Whole Woman’s Health, a chain of abortion facilities throughout Texas, was the plaintiff in the 2016 Supreme Court case.
The suit also claims the University of Texas System, which includes 14 public universities in Texas, is discriminatory, as it does not permit students to receive credit for internships at locations that provide abortions, nor does it place students in field rotations at places that offer abortions.
The laws being challenged by the lawsuit are hardly unusual in the United States, nor are they unique to Texas. The majority of states have a mandatory waiting period of typically 18-72 hours before an abortion and require either parental notification or consent for a minor’s abortion. Twenty-three states have laws requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound before an abortion or inform women about the availability of an ultrasound.
Foster noted that courts have acknowledged and upheld abortion regulations as an important part of protecting women’s health and safety.
“[The abortion industry] would prefer that women not know what the Supreme Court has ... acknowledged that abortion can be risky to a pregnant woman’s health, and thus states have an ‘important interest’ in protecting women’s health and a ‘legitimate interest in seeing to it that abortion, like any other procedure, is performed under circumstances that ensure maximum safety for the patient,’” she said.
Americans United for Life has released a report documenting hundreds of safety violations in various abortion facilities throughout the United States, including in Texas. The report claims that clinics have had instances of unlicensed staff, poor protocol and unsanitary medical conditions, at times resulting in severe health complications or death for patients.