Federal Appeals Court Blocks Access to Abortion in Texas
The state of Texas lost all but eight of its abortion clinics overnight after the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the state could begin enforcing unnecessary and harmful abortion restrictions passed as part of Texas's omnibus anti-abortion bill, HB 2, last year. Now, close to 1 million women of reproductive age will now have to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest clinic, preventing access to abortion for many.
"It's shocking and a disgrace. Women will suffer, some will die because of this reactionary policy," said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. "Feminist must organize to stop these attacks."
In its decision issued yesterday, a divided 2-1 panel of the Fifth Circuit allowed a provision of HB 2 requiring abortion clinics in Texas to meet the stringent building code requirements of ambulatory surgical centers to go into effect. That decision shuttered 13 clinics immediately. The appeals court also ruled that the law's admitting privileges requirement - a provision that has already closed around half of the state's abortion clinics, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights - could be applied to clinics in the Rio Grande Valley and West Texas.
The Texas state legislature passed HB 2 last year amid strong protest from women's rights and reproductive health activists. Wendy Davis successfully filibustered the bill in June 2013, but Governor Rick Perry (R) called a special session to pass it. In addition to the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges requirements, the law also bans abortion after 20 weeks and restricts medication abortion. Texas had 44 abortion clinics prior to HB 2. That number was cut to 21 after parts of HB 2 went into effect, and yesterday's decision eviscerated 13 more clinics.
George W. Bush appointee, Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod, wrote the majority opinion in the 2-1 panel decision, overturning the decision of District Judge Lee Yeakel finding the ambulatory surgical center and admitting privileges requirements unconstitutional. A separate challenge to the Texas admitting privileges requirement is also making its way through the federal courts.
1/27/2016 Taiwan Elects First Woman President - In a landslide victory, the leader of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tsai Ing-wen won the country's presidential election, becoming the first woman in Taiwan's history to hold the position.
Emphasizing her party's commitment to maintaining Taiwan's independence from China, Tsai won over young voters eager to usher in a political changing of the guard following some 70 years of dominance by the pro-Chinese unification party, the Kuomintang (KMT), chaired by presidential opponent Eric Chu. . . .