KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Closing Arguments Made In Texas Trial Over Abortion Restrictions

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel promised to rule in the case as quickly as possible. Whichever side loses is likely to appeal.

Dallas Morning News: Judge Notes Travel Texans Face With Abortion Clinic Laws
New abortion restrictions that would cause many Texas women to drive hours to end unwanted pregnancies left a federal judge Wednesday signaling unease. “I have a problem believing it is reasonable for anyone to travel 150 miles for medical care when they could get the medical care closer,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said. He made the comment during closing arguments in an Austin trial of a challenge to a major piece of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry last year. If the law requiring abortion facilities to meet the same standards as hospital-like surgical centers is upheld and goes into effect Sept. 1, abortions will be banned at more than a dozen clinics currently available to Texas women (8/13).

Texas Tribune: In Abortion Trial, Judge Questions "Undue Burden" Standard
As attorneys wrapped up their arguments Wednesday in a trial over a new abortion regulation, the judge presiding over the trial questioned whether the “undue burden” standard being considered in the case should be the same standard used in smaller states. The focus of the trial is a regulation, which takes effect Sept. 1, that requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. The rule applies to the facilities’ room and doorway sizes, locker room requirements, and additional infrastructure like pipelines for general anesthesia. Lawyers representing a coalition of abortion providers claimed that the measure would create an “undue burden” for women seeking access to abortion while state attorneys argued that the requirements would not create barriers for a majority of women seeking the procedure (Ura, 8/13).

Reuters: Texas Emblematic Of National Battle Against Abortion Providers
Conservative state legislatures are waging an effective fight to close down the nation’s abortion clinics, and nowhere is that battle more evident than in Texas, with one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. If a challenge to the state law fails in federal court, as of Sept. 1, there will be seven abortion providers left in Texas, the country’s second largest state by population and area, with 26 million people in an area about three times the size of the United Kingdom. That is a plummet from 41 providers in May 2013. “This has been an ongoing, unprecedented level of attacks on access to women’s health services,” said Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, which operates in the northern and central regions of the state. Currently there are 19 abortion providers, according to the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) (Anderson, 8/13).

And in Mississippi -

The Associated Press: Mississippi Seeks New Ruling On Abortion Law
Mississippi is asking a federal appeals court to uphold a 2012 state law requiring abortion clinic doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges. In late July, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the law is unconstitutional because it would close Mississippi's only abortion clinic. Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood filed papers Wednesday asking the full court to reverse the three-judge panel's ruling and allow Mississippi to enforce the law (Pettus, 8/13).

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