West Palm Beach – This morning, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling striking down two dangerous restrictions on abortion providers in Texas — protecting existing access in the state and, hopefully, allowing access to improve. While the Court’s ruling will have nationwide effect, no other state laws will be immediately struck down. It is possible that the standard the Court sets could be used to challenge restrictions in other states.
“This is a landmark decision that sends a strong message that laws that restrict access to abortion under the guise of protecting women are unconstitutional,” said Lillian Tamayo, President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. “Here in Florida, women’s access to care is still very much under threat.”
Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of these restrictions when they temporarily went into effect in October 2014. Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas were inundated with calls from frightened and upset patients and women were lined up outside the doors in the morning, waiting to see if they can still access the care they need.
“The findings by the Court in today’s opinion establish that state legislatures cannot hide behind hollow and disingenuous arguments purporting to address safety,” Tamayo said. “Where, as is true in both Texas and Florida, the legislative reasons for increased restrictions on abortion providers are clearly intended as substantial obstacles in the path of a woman’s choice rather than as means for actually increasing patient safety, the Court will remove them.”
“We can’t let lawmakers ignore today’s ruling. In too many states access to abortion is still a right in name only for many women,” said Barbara Zdravecky, President/CEO, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. “We are pleased the Supreme Court recognized that the burdens placed on abortion providers by the Texas Legislature were not designed to protect women’s health but rather, were intended to limit women’s access to safe and legal abortions. The court specifically favored facts and science over disingenuous political actions by an anti-choice politicians in Texas. We face similar issues in Florida. We are aggressively challenging the new requirements and we hope that today’s opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court will have an enlightening and helpful impact on the Court in the Florida case.”
A PerryUndem poll commissioned by Vox found that the majority of Americans oppose restrictions meant to shutter health centers or make it more difficult for women to access abortion, and that 70 percent of Americans don’t want to see the Supreme Court overturnRoe vs. Wade.
- At issue in the case were two provisions of HB2 that threatened to severely restrict access to safe, legal abortion across Texas: (1) a mandate that health centers that provide abortions comply with requirements for ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs) and (2) a requirement that doctors who provide abortions obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital.
- It is important to remember that this case is only about these two provisions of Texas law and therefore, no matter what the Court rules, it will not have any immediate impact on Florida or other states outside of Texas.
Florida’s HB 1411
- Planned Parenthood’s litigation against the state of Florida was filed in federal court and deals with issues related to the Omnibus bill HB 1411 passed during the 2016 Florida legislative session. Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Florida are challenging claims related to the definition of gestational period, onerous inspection requirements and defunding that are not directly impacted by SCOTUS’ decision in the Texas case.
- HB 1411 does contain new requirements that abortion providers obtain either transfer agreements or admitting privileges. These are not currently challenged in the Planned Parenthood lawsuit.
- We have always maintained and medical experts agree that special hospital admitting privileges are medically unnecessary for abortion providers as it is a safe and legal procedure. Often, admitting privileges are difficult to obtain and may make abortion even more difficult to obtain, causing harm to women.
- Florida is already tied for last when it comes to women’s health and well-being and is facing the highest number of new HIV diagnoses and some of the highest cervical cancer rates in the nation.
- In Florida, 78% of Planned Parenthood’s health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that often without Planned Parenthood, patients would have nowhere else to turn for reproductive health care.