Second Nexus Perspective
A woman’s right to an abortion could become much more difficult to exercise in Texas in the months to come. Seventy-five percent of the forty clinics spread throughout the state a mere two years ago will be shuttered if the Supreme Court denies the petition for certiorari filed earlier this month in Whole Women’s Health v. Lakey. This would leave a mere 10 clinics to service the second largest and second most populated state in the union. These clinics, which are clustered around the five metropolitan areas in Texas, would leave approximately 1 in 6 women of reproductive age in Texas over 150 miles from their nearest clinic.
The case is a result of Texas’s 2013 law House Bill 2, which would add a series of onerous and largely inapplicable restrictions on abortion clinics. Two of these restrictions are challenged in Whole Women’s Health.
First, the petition challenges the requirement that the physician performing the abortion have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles from the clinic. While this provision purports to establish minimum standards of care, admitting privileges often have no bearing on a doctor’s competence. Many doctors who perform abortions have no formal hospital affiliation, ironically, because the procedure itself is so safe that these doctors rarely, if ever, need to admit their patients to a hospital. As a result, they often do not meet the hospitals’ minimum requirements for number of patients admitted or surgeries performed.
So a provision ostensibly drafted to promote women’s safety actually penalizes those doctors — and the clinics — for their exemplary safety records.
The second restriction requires that abortion clinics meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). ASCs are designed to provide sterile environments for surgeries historically performed in hospitals. Implementing ASC standards would require,
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