Advocates Ready Legal Challenge to Texas GOP’s Latest Assault on Abortion Rights

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Advocates Ready Legal Challenge to Texas GOP’s Latest Assault on Abortion Rights

Teddy Wilson

Pro-choice advocates hope to replicate the successful litigation of another anti-choice omnibus bill passed by Texas' GOP-held legislature.

Reproductive rights advocates have vowed to take legal action after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Tuesday signed a bill creating sweeping abortion restrictions.

SB 8 would ban the most common type of abortion care after 13 weeks of pregnancy, ban an abortion care procedure already banned by federal law, require the burial of fetal tissue resulting from abortions, and create medically unnecessary reporting requirements for physicians who provide abortion care.

The law is set to take effect on September 1. 

The GOP-backed bill was priority legislation for Texas Right to Life, the state’s most prominent anti-choice lobby. The organization praised the bill’s signing as the “most significant Pro-Life victory” of the 2017 legislative session.

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The legislation is part of a national strategy aimed at “undermining” legal abortion.

Elizabeth Nash, senior state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told Reuters that Texas Republicans have passed legislation replicated by GOP lawmakers in other states. “Texas legislation on abortion is typically amplified because the state can be a beacon for restrictions nationwide,” Nash said.

Reproductive rights advocates are preparing to challenge the law, hoping to replicate the successful litigation of another anti-choice omnibus bill passed by Texas’ GOP-held legislature.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down portions of the omnibus anti-choice bill known as HB 2. The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit challenging the law on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, and the organization has promised to challenge similar anti-choice laws. Texas faces a $4.5 million legal bill after fighting for years in defense of HB2.

The state is facing a legal challenge to the implementation of regulations on fetal tissue; SB 8 includes a provision that would codify the regulations into law. A federal judge in January issued a preliminary injunction blocking the state from implementing the regulations. 

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement that Texas lawmakers “haven’t learned their lesson” and continue to pass legislation to restrict access to abortion care.

“The Center for Reproductive Rights has long stood with Texas women to ensure their constitutional rights are respected and protected,” Northup said. “We took Texas all the way to the Supreme Court last year and won—and will continue to challenge any laws which rob women of their rights and freedoms.”

Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said in a statement that the Supreme Court ruled that “women deserve better” than laws that erode access to abortion care. 

“Whole Woman’s Health, as always, stands with and for all Texans and we will continue to do so even after this new attempt to harm our communities,” Hagstrom Miller said. “We will also continue to challenge injustice in the courts to ensure Texas women have the same rights to quality health care our constitution promises to everyone in this country.”