Today begins a new era in Texas. Dozens of abortion facilities have closed or ceased performing abortions rather than upgrade to the new safety regulations. Only seven remain compared to 39 a year ago.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Thursday to allow House Bill 2 to go fully into effect as that court considers an appeal of the lower federal court’s ruling to strike down key components of HB 2. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Lakey, several abortion providers seek to strike down key provisions of HB 2. While no one can say how the 5th Circuit will ultimately rule, the Court did say that – regarding a facial challenge to the key provisions – the State “is likely to succeed,” not the abortion providers.
Many elected officials deserve thanks:
Third, the chairs of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Sen. Jane Nelson, and the House State Affairs Committee, Rep. Byron Cook. Both assured that HB 2 reached the Senate and House floors in a timely manner free of points of order, despite thousands of opponents who tried to disrupt the process.
Sen. Dan Patrick authored the component of HB 2 that increases safety standards for drug-induced abortions (using RU-486) by requiring the drugs be administered according to the FDA protocol in the presence of the abortion doctor. Texas Alliance for Life’s political action committee has endorsed Sen. Patrick for Lt. Governor, and that endorsement is well deserved.
Sen. Bob Deuell authored the component to increase safety standards at licensed abortion facilities to the level of ambulatory surgical centers, ASCs. We believe he deserves special praise for his successful efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in previous sessions.
Rep. Cindy Burkett authored the component that requires abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals.
And Sen. Hegar authored the component that bans abortions after the fifth month of pregnancy.
Our gratitude also goes to Attorney General Greg Abbott (whom our political action committee has endorsed for Governor) and his extremely effective legal team headed by his Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell for their defense of HB 2.
What does the future hold? The unfortunate reality is that abortion will remain readily available in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio for the foreseeable future. That is where the seven remaining ASC abortion facilities are located. These monsters collectively have enormous capacity to perform tens of thousands of abortions annually, probably more than ample for the 68,000 annual abortions in Texas. Abby Johnson, the former director of the now-closed Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Bryan, has said Planned Parenthood’s abortion ASC in Houston was designed to perform 75 abortions a day, six days a week. That corresponds to a frightening 23,400 abortions a year.
Nevertheless, abortion totals will likely drop compared to before HB 2, just as abortions dropped with the implementation of the Sonogram Law two years ago. The pro-life movement can now focus our lifesaving efforts of prayer and sidewalk counseling at seven rather than dozens of locations. And abortions at ASCs are less likely to be performed in a manner that endangers the health and safety of women. All of these are important to the pro-life movement, which cares for mothers and babies.
Today we celebrate this unprecedented pro-life victory. Tomorrow we resume our efforts to change hearts and save lives.