Center for Reproductive Rights Petitions Supreme Court to Protect Access to Abortion in Texas

Washington, DC — Today the Center for Reproductive Rights asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appellate court ruling from June which if allowed to take effect, would decimate women’s access to safe, legal abortion in the state of Texas. The restrictions at issue in the lawsuit would leave the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in Texas with 10 health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in the entire state — down from approximately 40 health centers before passage of this dangerous law. Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of these restrictions when they temporarily went into effect last October.
 

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“What does America look like without access to safe, legal abortion? Just look at Texas, if these laws are allowed to go into effect. It’s a world where, even though it’s legal, and even if the pregnancy puts her life at risk, or is the result of rape or incest, a woman has to drive hundreds of miles to access an abortion — very often taking time off of work and paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars out of her own pocket. These laws de-facto eliminate abortion in most of the state, making it unobtainable for too many women, and quite literally putting women’s lives at risk. If the Supreme Court allows these sham laws to stand, that wouldn’t just be the fate of women in Texas — it could be the fate of women across America.

“As members of Congress and GOP candidates for president try to score cheap political points by calling for extreme measures and restrictions on abortion that the majority of Americans strongly oppose, this case is a reminder that the effects of these restrictions are very real. Scott Walker has even suggested he would rather let a woman die than access an abortion, while Mike Huckabee said he wouldn't rule out using federal troops to stop women from having abortions.”

Background

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.

The public overwhelmingly supports a woman’s right to make personal medical decisions about abortion:

  • For more than 40 years, ever since Roe, more than three-quarters of the public has said abortion should remain safe and legal.
  • Two recent Gallup polls found increases in support for abortion access and increases in people who say abortion is morally acceptable. The percentage of the public that thinks abortion is morally acceptable is higher than it’s been in 14 years.
  • VOX/PerryUndem poll in March found that 70 percent of respondents said women should be able to access abortion without added burdens and shouldn't have to drive more than 60 miles to get an abortion.
  • Sixty-eight percent of Millennials don't want to see Roe overturned and 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available.