Texas Tribune: Groups weigh legal challenge to abortion bill

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"As an omnibus bill restricting abortion access in Texas makes its way to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk, opponents of the measure are already weighing the possibility of suing the state to stop implementation of the regulations, which lawmakers approved last week.

\'There are no decisions about litigation, but I think that may be the course we have to follow,\' said Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas. Burke said the ACLU Texas legal team is evaluating potential challenges to the bill and that any litigation would be part of a larger strategy that includes attempting to influence elections. The organization is one of a handful considering a legal challenge to the restrictions.

Any lawsuit challenging House Bill 2 would likely be based on U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the latter of which held that state laws cannot erect substantial obstacles to women seeking abortions, said Janet Crepps, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national abortion rights organization based in New York.

But Kyleen Wright, president of Texans for Life, said recent cases such as the conviction of Pennsylvania doctor Kermit Gosnell bolster the argument that HB 2 provides necessary reforms to ensure safe abortion procedures. Wright said the bill's ban on abortions after 20 weeks is \'pushing the envelope a bit,\' but she added that that component is based on laws in other states that have not been challenged.

In addition to banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, the Texas bill approved last week would restrict use of the medication abortion drug RU-486, require that abortion providers have hospital privileges and require abortion facilities to meet ambulatory surgical center standards. Proponents of the bill say it will protect unborn children and the health of women. Opponents worry that it will shutter most abortion facilities in Texas and force women to seek unsafe abortion alternatives."

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