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Abortion providers petition SCOTUS for injunction review

We’ll see what happens.

Abortion providers on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a lower federal court’s injunction that blocked Texas from implementing strict new abortion rules.

“Right now, women in vast swaths of Texas are being turned away at clinic doors because of a bogus law that attempts to do underhandedly what states cannot do directly — block women from accessing abortion services,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We now look to the Supreme Court to protect women’s access to these essential health care services while we fight this critical court battle.”

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday lifted a lower court’s injunction, allowing the state to implement two provisions in House Bill 2 that require abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges nearby the facility and follow federal guidelines, rather than a common, evidence-based protocol, when administering drug-induced abortions.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who is considering the plaintiffs’ request, has ordered the state to respond by Nov. 12. The plaintiffs anticipate that Scalia will issue an expedited decision shortly after receiving the state’s response. He could also refer the case to the entire U.S. Supreme Court. If Scalia does not reverse the 5th Circuit’s decision or refer the case to the whole court, the plaintiffs may ask another Supreme Court justice to consider the case. If the case is not considered by the U.S. Supreme Court, it will still proceed in the 5th Circuit, which has scheduled a hearing in January 2014.

See here, here, and here for the background. Think Progress offers a small sliver of hope, as SCOTUS just refused to hear an appeal to overturn an injunction against Oklahoma’s full-throttle ban on medical abortions, but in that case they declined to take an action whereas in this case they would need to step in, so I don’t know. Even if they do step in, the damage has been done:

After the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision Thursday to lift an injunction on new abortion regulations in Texas, at least nine abortion facilities — about a quarter of the state’s abortion providers — have discontinued abortion services in light of the new law.

The court’s decision is “having an immediate impact starting today, and what that impact is depends on each woman and where she lives,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood has discontinued abortion services at four Texas locations: Fort Worth, Austin, Waco and Lubbock. Wheat said staff members began calling patients to cancel appointments Thursday evening soon after the appellate ruling came down.

“Depending on that patient and what her circumstances are, we’re either referring her to another health center in that same community or telling her which cities she’ll have to travel to,” Wheat said.

See the embedded video in that Trib story for the effect on one woman and her family. SCOTUS won’t take any action until at least next week, so the “emergency” part of this request wasn’t exactly honored. We’ll just have to wait till then to see about the rest of it. The Statesman, Texas Politics, Trail Blazers, and RH Reality Check have more.

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  1. […] here and here for previous updates, and click the Trib link above to see copies of the filings. I have […]