The Texas Attorney General’s Office today filed its brief with the U.S. Supreme Court defending House Bill 2, a state law, which ensures patient safety and raises the standard of care for women. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 2 and will be delivered by Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller.
“The Kermit Gosnell scandal shocked our nation and put a spotlight on the urgent need to prevent such tragedies from happening in our own state,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Texas lawmakers joined other states in adding common-sense measures to protect Texas women and the Court should uphold the ability of the state to ensure women seeking abortions are not harmed.”
Gosnell was convicted in 2013 of killing an abortion patient and three infants born alive. As Texas points out in its brief, the grand jury that indicted Gosnell specifically called on states to “find the fortitude” to ensure that abortion clinics be held to surgical-center standards.
At issue before the U.S. Supreme Court are two provisions of Texas law designed to improve the quality of care available to Texas women at abortion facilities. The provisions (1) require abortion facilities to comply with the standards set for ambulatory surgical centers and (2) require abortion practitioners to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility. There are currently more than 430 general surgical centers located throughout the state of Texas, which meet the standard of care to deliver safe health care to women.
Ensuring patient safety is a legitimate state interest. Medical experts have testified that these requirements are reasonable and effective measures to raise the standard of care for patients and ensure their health and safety. Even the National Abortion Federation has recommended that patients use abortion doctors with admitting privileges at a local hospital, no more than 20 minutes away, in case of an emergency.
The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed multiple times that the state has an interest in safeguarding the health of women. And the Court previously upheld Virginia’s surgical-center requirement for abortions in Simopoulos v. Virginia in 1983.