“Provisions in this bill will put women’s health and safety in danger,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.
Richards called the legal battle “the latest chapter in what is going to be a long fight to restore healthcare to women who need it most.”
The group filed suit with the Center for Reproductive Rights and the ACLU of Texas in federal court in Austin on Friday against Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott and other state and county officials.
The suit seeks to bar some provisions of the law, including restrictions and regulations they argue would effectively close 13 clinics by the end of next month. They were joined by more than a dozen Texas women’s health providers.
The lawsuit was filed days before Davis, a Democrat, is expected to announce her candidacy for governor after drawing national attention for her stand — in pink sneakers — against the bill that was ultimately passed by the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry. Abbott is vying to replace Perry.
Abbott’s office had not been served with the lawsuit early Friday and has yet not commented on it, a spokesman said.
Jim George, an attorney for the groups that sued, said they plan to file a request for a temporary injunction early next week that would allow clinics slated to close under the new law as of Oct. 29 to stay open.
“They are open now and will continue to be if there is an injunction,” George said.
Another provision of the law requires providers to follow FDA protocols for administration of the abortion pill (advocates say recent off-label use has shown that a lower dose has fewer side effects). The law also requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a hospital less than 30 miles away. The groups argue in the lawsuit that “rather than protecting women’s health, the Act will harm Texas women.”
“Not only is this law unnecessary, it puts the lives and health of Texas women in jeopardy,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom project, adding that, “Extreme politicians across the country are attempting to outlaw abortion state by state.”
Similar requirements have so far been blocked in Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
The lawsuit does not challenge a major provision of the law Davis spoke against that bans abortion after 20 weeks. Similar laws in Arizona and Idaho were twice found unconstitutional in the 9th Circuit of Appeals, but a Texas challenge would go to the 5th Circuit, which is considered more conservative.
Nancy Northrup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which joined in the lawsuit, said the 20-week abortion ban was not part of the suit because “this lawsuit focuses on provisions that will stop providers from providing abortions.”