Texas officials on Tuesday filed a brief [text, PDF] with US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia [official profile] in response to a challenge to the state's new restrictive abortion law [HB 2]. Last week, abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to reinstate a previous injunction [JURIST reports] blocking HB 2. The disputed restriction requires that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility. In its brief, Texas defended the admitting privileges requirement, saying that it would promote women's health by "fostering a woman's ability to seek consultation and treatment for complications directly from her physician." Two weeks ago the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] lifted the injunction [JURIST report], and the law was allowed to take effect immediately.
This is the latest development in the ongoing reproductive rights controversy [JURIST backgrounder] in the US. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in August against an Arizona law [HB 2800, PDF] that disqualified health providers that perform abortions, such as Planned Parenthood, from receiving public funds. Also in August Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) [advocacy website] sued [JURIST report] the Indiana State Department of Health [official website] challenging a new regulation [text] that defined facilities prescribing Mifepristone as abortion clinics and required them meet regulatory requirements of surgical facilities, even when they do not provide surgical procedures. A similar bill, which passed [JURIST report] in Alabama in April, has received criticism as a "back-door" attempt [JURIST op-ed] to circumvent a woman's right to abortion.