Fifth Circuit Court Upholds Devastating Abortion Restrictions in Texas
Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433
“Planned Parenthood will be here for the women who rely on us,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
Austin, TX – Despite the fact that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit today ruled that medically unnecessary restrictions that could severely restrict Texas women’s access to safe, legal abortion are constitutional. The case was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
This ruling comes as women’s health advocates are in day six of an ongoing protest outside Governor Abbott’s mansion calling for a veto of a newly passed measure restricting access to free cancer screenings for low-income women (read more HERE from the TexasObserver). In addition to passing one of the most extreme abortion restrictions in the nation, years of hostile policies in Texas have left tens of thousands of Texas women without access to cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and other preventive care (read more HERE from the Guttmacher Institute).
In the statements below, leaders from Planned Parenthood advocacy organizations emphasized that Planned Parenthood will continue to do everything they can to protect access to care — no matter what. Planned Parenthood affiliates will continue to provide safe, legal abortions at health centers in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Ft. Worth and San Antonio.
“We have witnessed firsthand the terrible impact these restrictions have on women across Texas, who cannot get to a medical provider and are forced to delay getting care. Politicians are not medical experts, yet politicians have written these restrictions with the end goal of cutting off access to safe, legal abortion,” said Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “One thing will never change: Planned Parenthood will be here for the women who rely on us in the Lone Star state and across the country, no matter what.”
“This ruling – if allowed to stand – will have a devastating effect on women’s access to safe, legal abortion in Texas. Politicians in Texas have worked tirelessly to deny women access to safe abortion, affordable birth control and cancer screenings,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “But Planned Parenthood will continue to do everything in its power to protect a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions — including providing safe, legal abortions at its health centers in Texas.”
Within hours of the Texas restrictions taking effect last October and before the Supreme Court stepped in to temporarily block the restrictions, Planned Parenthood witnessed the catastrophic impact to women across the state — with health centers inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients, and women lined up outside health center doors, waiting to see if they could still access the care they needed at the Planned Parenthood health centers that remained open:
- Doris Dixon, a call center director for Planned Parenthood in Houston, shared a heartbreaking account of a woman who traveled from out of state and stayed in Houston overnight, only to find that she couldn’t obtain a procedure, writing: “I don’t know what will happen to her. I don’t know that I will ever stop thinking about her. And she is just one woman whose life has been turned upside down by this law.”
- In Houston, Planned Parenthood reported that its call volume from patients seeking abortion services increased 170 percent when the law was in effect.
- In the days after the order, Planned Parenthood in Austin received seven times as many calls about abortion services, as compared to typical averages.
- Across Central and North Texas, Planned Parenthood saw a daily average of four times as many calls from women seeking abortions.
- Many of these calls were from women living far outside the affiliates’ service regions, in cities such as Midland and McAllen, where providers have closed.
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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.