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Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services et al. v. Abbott
United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
748 F.3d 583 (2014)
In 2013 Texas passed a law requiring physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles on the day of the abortion in case an emergency transfer was needed due to medical complications. The law also required that drugs used to induce abortions be administered according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) protocol, which required administration no more than 49 days after a pregnant woman’s last menstrual cycle. It was common practice for physicians to administer these drugs up to 63 days after instead. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services (Planned Parenthood) (plaintiff), other abortion clinics, and three doctors sued Texas Attorney General Gregory Abbott (defendant) and other individuals, seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment. Regarding the provision requiring physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges, a district court sided with Planned Parenthood, granted a permanent injunction, and ruled that the law failed rational-basis scrutiny and placed an undue burden on a woman’s right to end a pregnancy. Regarding the provision limiting medication abortions to the FDA-approved window, the district court granted a partial injunction and ruled that the provision placed an undue burden on pregnant women who may not be able to seek a surgical abortion between 50 and 63 days after their last menstrual cycles for health reasons and who would not be able to seek a medication abortion during this window. The court also ruled that the provision could not be enforced against any physician who believed this off-label administration was needed to save the mother’s life or health. However, the district court’s written opinion showed that regarding the first provision, the court applied incorrect standards under rational-basis scrutiny, found an undue burden without evidence, and erred in applying the undue-burden test by placing the burden on Texas. Regarding the second provision, the court found that the law placed an undue burden on abortion access on days 50 to 63, and the court imposed its own exception for the life and health of a pregnant woman based on vague findings and speculation in the absence of evidence. Texas appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Jones, J.)
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