BREAKING: Supreme Court Announces Review of Texas Abortion Restrictions

Austin, TX — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will review a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding restrictions that threaten to further devastate access to safe, legal abortion in Texas. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the lower court’s ruling, it would leave the 5.4 million women of reproductive age in Texas with only 10 health centers that provide safe, legal abortion in the entire state—down from approximately 40 health centers before passage of this dangerous law. The case is Whole Women’s Health, et al. v. Cole, et al. and the plaintiffs are represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Within hours of the Texas restrictions taking effect last October 2014 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. In Houston, Planned Parenthoodreported that its call volume from patients seeking abortion services increased 170 percent when the law was in effect. 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 had closed. 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.”

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:

“We have seen the devastating consequences for women firsthand when this law went into effect last October — with patients lined up outside Planned Parenthood health centers and women frantically calling to get the care they need. If the Court upholds this clinic shutdown law, it could create a world where even though abortion is legal, it is completely out of reach for many women. A woman’s right to make personal medical decisions about abortion shouldn’t depend on where she lives. Make no mistake—this is part of a broader agenda to ban safe, legal abortion completely. In fact, the author of this very law has said she is ‘proud that Texas always takes the lead in trying to turn back what started with Roe v. Wade.’ This is not what Texans want–which is why thousands turned out to protest this dangerous law when it was jammed through the legislature.”

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“If the court allows this clinic shutdown law to stand, it would essentially take many women back to a time before abortion was legal. Texas paints a devastating picture of what’s at stake for women across the country — where women are already traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines, and waiting weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all. A woman’s very right to make personal medical decisions about abortion is now before the court. These clinic shutdown laws are a clear attempt to end women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and this is not what the public wants. When this law passed, it sparked historic protests in Texas and across the country. For more than 40 years, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that the Constitution protects every woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions about abortion — and Americans support that right.”

These restrictions have already shut down health centers across Texas, and women are already struggling to access safe, legal abortion. In fact, new research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) found that some women are waiting as long as 20 days to access abortion in Texas. If the Supreme Court does not reverse the appellate ruling, the situation could get even worse. Researchers estimate that the number of women seeking abortions at the remaining 10 health centers would increase dramatically beyond existing capacity, forcing longer delays that would nearly double the percentage of abortions in the second trimester. While abortion is an extremely safe procedure, it’s safest the earliest it’s provided.

Polls consistently show that the majority of Americans support access to safe and legal abortion. A recent Bloomberg Politics national poll found that 67% of Americans surveyed said the Supreme Court was right to rule that women have a constitutional right to abortion and agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. A VOX/Perry Undem poll found that more Americans now consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials don’t want to see Roe overturned, and 72 percent of Republicans think abortion should be available.

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Planned Parenthood Texas Votes (PPTV) is the nonpartisan policy, advocacy and political arm of
Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas.

HB2: How We Fight Back

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This week HB2 is on trial. HB2 is the disastrous bill Wendy Davis stood 13 hours to block. It is the bill thousands of you protested. And it is the bill that that has already closed dozens of abortion clinics throughout the state – clinics that also provided life-saving preventative care, cancer screenings and birth control.

While the court considers the case against HB2, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes is taking the fight to the ballot box.

Will you donate today to support our programs to get out the vote and elect pro-women’s health candidates this November?

The only way we can stop bills like HB2 from passing is to elect leaders who fight to support women’s health. Planned Parenthood Texas Votes is here to make sure that happens.

The election in November places the future of women’s health in Texas directly at risk more than ever before. This year, Texans have a clear choice – we can elect those who have spent their careers crafting and supporting HB2 and bills like it, or we can elect leaders who will fight for Texas women.

Donate today to make sure Texans know what is at stake in this election and that they vote.

Greg Abbott is running for governor, and brags about his support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and his support of the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby. His running mate, Dan Patrick, says it’s a myth that Planned Parenthood provides health care to women. And Patrick claims his bill to force women to undergo unnecessary sonograms is the most important bill he has ever passed.

To stop these men, and their equally hostile running mates, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will run the second largest field program in the state. We will knock on hundreds of thousands of doors and make hundreds of thousands of phone calls, to make sure Texans understand what is at stake this November.

Will you support our effort to Stop Greg Abbott and his posse that has vowed to end access to women’s reproductive health care and rights?

HB2 has had a horrific impact upon Texas women. But it has also served as a rallying cry for Texans. We must fight back harder than we ever have before – most significantly at the ballot box.

Thank you for standing strong for Texas women.

Yvonne Gutierrez

#TX1YrLater: Planned Parenthood Leads the Fight to Protect Women’s Access to Preventive Health Services and Abortion

Austin, Texas – One year after House Bill 2 was signed into law, Planned Parenthood has fought even harder to increase healthcare services for Texas women and is bringing the fight to the ballot box this November.

“Planned Parenthood has been in Texas for over 70 years, and we’re not going anywhere. Since the passage of HB2 we have increased our commitment to Texas women, and have launched a new statewide political initiative to elect candidates who fully support women’s access to health care.”– Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director Planned Parenthood Texas Votes
Last summer saw an unprecedented level of activism at the Texas Capitol:
·     More than 6,000 people rallied at the capitol, more than 34,000 letters were sent to legislators and more than 2,300 people testified against these dangerous restrictions.
·     Last fall, more than 19,000 people urged the Department of Health to write rules for abortion facilities that allow existing, quality providers to remain in service.
 
POLITICAL ORGANIZING
Just as women trust Planned Parenthood health centers when it comes to their medical care, they trust Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations when we speak out about the policies and politicians that determine their access to their healthcare. One in five American women visit Planned Parenthood for family planning and reproductive health care in their lifetime, and 500,000 Texans are signed up as Planned Parenthood supporters.  
In March of this year, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC were launched because the stakes for women and their access to basic health care could not be higher.
Planned Parenthood Texas Votes and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes PAC will be an influential factor in this fall’s election.
Since March, PPTV ‘s digital program has reached an audience of over three million with our messaging calling out anti-women’s health candidates on their records of dismantling access to health care.  
PPTV will also run a robust statewide field program, second only in size to the joint field effort of the Davis Campaign and Battleground Texas.
This year PPTV PAC will raise approximately $3M, and target over 300,000 women voters for direct contact, to inform them what is at stake in this election and to turn them out to vote.
PPTV will take direct action in statewide races focusing on five key counties and in targeted State Legislative Districts. Our work will include direct voter contact, paid radio, online advertising, and field research. 
A list of PPTV’s endorsements can be found here:
 
HEALTH CARE SERVICES PROVIDED
In the year since the passage of HB2, Texas women continue to count on Planned Parenthood for essential health care services:
Providing over nearly 200,000 Texans access to affordable annual exams, birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, HIV test, screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and other essential preventive care at its 45 health centers throughout Texas.
Planned Parenthood affiliates across the state have been hard at work to increase access to care despite the onslaught of legislative attacks. For instance, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas (PPGT) has established a Patient Assistance Fund, to ensure that women seeking abortion services who have to travel outside of their community as a result of the bill have access to funding for transportation and lodging costs, and contraception to help plan and space future pregnancies, and prevent unintended pregnancies. PPGT also purchased a new health center and ambulatory surgical center (ASC) to provide safe, legal abortion services in Dallas County in compliance with Texas’ controversial HB2.
One year after the signing of HB2, Texas women — and all Texans who care about women’s health — are still watching. And we are fighting back.

Planned Parenthood Petitions Fifth Circuit for En Banc Review of Decision Restricting Texas Women’s Access to Health Care

Today, Planned Parenthood affiliates in Texas filed a petition on behalf of their patients to request that the full bench of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals consider the constitutionality of harmful abortion restrictions that were struck down by  a federal district court last fall. On March 27, a three-judge panel of the court upheld the Texas law, making safe and legal abortion virtually impossible for thousands of Texas women to access. Similar laws have been blocked by federal courts in Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last December affirmed a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Wisconsin’s law.

In the petition filed today, Planned Parenthood argues that the three-judge panel’s ruling warrants closer review by the full court because it conflicts with decades of applicable Supreme Court precedent and if allowed to stand would have terrible implications for women’s health and rights.

Statement from Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Action Fund:

“The three-judge panel’s ruling on March 27  failed the women of Texas, and severely limits a woman’s access to safe and legal abortion in vast regions of the state. This hardship further impacts women who have already lost access to birth control and preventative health care at the hands of a small group of politicians who are trying to impose their beliefs on all Texans.

Planned Parenthood will continue providing services, including abortion, to women across the state and we will work to combat these laws in the state house and the court house. Texas women need leaders who will defend the ability to make decisions about their own reproductive health, and who will protect women’s access to basic health care – including birth control.”

The three-judge panel that ruled on March 27 includes a judge who is openly hostile to Roe v. Wade.  The Fifth Circuit has repeatedly upheld laws that impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion and take health care away from Texas women in need.  In a highly unusual move, last October, it abruptly stayed a lower court’s permanent injunction issued after a three-day trial on the abortion restrictions.  In 2012, it allowed Texas to bar all Planned Parenthood health centers from participating in a preventive health care program. Earlier that year, it upheld an especially cruel and demeaning forced ultrasound law.

The March 27 ruling upholds a law requiring doctors who provide abortions to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital — a requirement that leading medical associations like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA) oppose because it harms women’s health and interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.

The lawsuit, Planned Parenthood v. Abbott, was jointly filed on September 27 on behalf of more than a dozen Texas health care providers and their patients by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Texas law firm George Brothers Kincaid & Horton.  In striking down the measure as unconstitutional after a three-day trial, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said the admitting privileges requirement has “no rational relationship to improved patient care” and also “places an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion.”  Despite that ruling, a panel of the Fifth Circuit allowed the law to take effect on November 1, 2013, while the case was on appeal and a different panel held it constitutional on March 27.