District court judge strikes down HB 2

Jackie Wang

A federal district court judge struck down a state women’s reproductive rights law Friday that places restrictions on abortion clinics in Texas, calling it unconstitutional.

Judge Lee Yeakel concluded that “the act’s ambulatory-surgical-center requirements places an unconstitutional burden on women throughout Texas.”

House Bill 2 was signed into law on July 30, 2013. Yeakel blocked the requirement that raised the required standard of abortion clinics to the level of “ambulatory-surgical-center” standards, or full hospital building standards. 

The state of Texas has already announced plans to appeal his decision.

The bill also required abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges within 30 miles of their clinics, banned abortions after 20 weeks of fertilization and added one more required doctor’s appointment when using the abortion pill. The extra doctor’s appointment totaled to four required appointments.

The latter three rules went into effect in November 2013. The higher clinic building standards would have gone into effect Sept. 1, forcing many of Texas' abortion clinics to close. 

Without Yeakel’s decision, the only abortion clinics left in Texas would be in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas/Fort Worth areas, making it far more difficult for women not in those areas to obtain an abortion.

Nancy Northrup, CEO and president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which challenged the law on behalf of abortion clinics in the state, said in a press release that women still have difficulty finding high-quality reproductive health care.

“The court has made clear that women’s well-being is not advanced by laws attacking access to essential health care, and that rights protected by the U.S. Constitution may not be denied through laws that make them impossible to exercise,” Northrup said.

Max Patterson, a history senior and University Democrats president, said reproductive issues are important to understand. 

“It affects all women in Texas, and it definitely affects students at UT,” Patterson said. “It just shows really how terrible governance by our state legislature is.”

Patterson said he was happy with today’s verdict.

“I’m hopeful that, when it gets appealed, it will remain struck down,” Patterson said. “It’s definitely a victory — it was an unconstitutional act, not based on medical reasons.”

Amy Nabozny, a history junior and College Republicans president, said she disapproved of the decision.

“It is a shame that a federal judge would chose to sacrifice the safety of Texas women for the sake of accessibility,” Nabozny said.

This story has been updated throughout since its original publication.