Has Your State Been Sued By Planned Parenthood Yet?
Any old state controlled by aging Republicans can pass laws to dramatically restrict access to abortion. It's what you do when your state faces poverty, drought and a ton of other pressing issues that you'd rather not deal with. But making the anti-abortion laws stick is the real challenge. Texas is now facing that challenge as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and 10 abortion providers are suing Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott over HB 2 . Who will win? Depends on the judge, but this isn't the first time Planned Parenthood led a lawsuit against an anti-abortion state. Here's look at some of Planned Parenthood's cases against other states.
Only five abortion clinics remain in Alabama, which for Alabama lawmakers is five too many. Governor Robert Bentley in April signed the Women's Health and Safety Act which, like Texas' law, stipulates that every abortion clinic be built to the standards of an ambulatory surgical center and that every doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at the local hospital.
Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed suit three months ago, saying that the bill "places onerous and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers."
Outcome: The bill was supposed to go into effect on August 15, but U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson delayed it until March 24, 2014, as the lawsuit continues. Republicans were not pleased. As state Representative Mary Sue McClurkin, who sponsored the legislation, told Reuters "I am surprised they are filing lawsuits instead of bringing the clinics up to code."
The Wisconsin Medical Society gave Wisconsin's Act 37, which requires abortion providers to have hospital-admitting privileges and mandates forced ultrasounds, dismal reviews. Nevertheless, the state's Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill in 2013. It was sued by Planned Parenthood.
Outcome: A federal judge granted Planned Parenthood a temporary restraining order to stop the enforcement of the act, citing a "troubling lack of justification." The case is heading to trial in November.
Kansas was sued by Planned Parenthood and others after passing a law this year requiring doctors to give all women seeking abortions a little pep-talk, telling them they're ending the life of a "whole, separate, unique, living human being." It also would require the websites of abortion providers to link back to medically disputed information on the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website. Planned Parenthood sued to stop this latter provision.
Outcome: . District Court Judge Kathryn Vratil refused to block the law, saying there was no evidence that Planned Parenthood would be harmed by linking to the state's website.
In May, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed a bill requiring clinics that administer RU-486, aka the abortion pill, to be licensed as surgery centers.
Outcome: The law took effect July 1, while the Planned Parenthood lawsuit didn't happen until August, so it's not looking to good for Indiana abortion clinics so far. "We look forward to respectfully asserting the state's case," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. What Zoeller didn't mention: Indiana had already tried to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, only to suffer an epic loss in the courts two years later.
In May 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer hopped on the defunding Planned Parenthood bandwagon.
Outcome: A victory for Planned Parenthood. This June, Judge Neil Wake ruled that stripping state funds from abortion providers violates the federal Medicaid Act.
Another Republican state, another state defunding all clinics that happened to offer abortions, even for procedures that aren't abortions. "This is the first time in North Carolina's history that a single health care provider has been carved out in the budget and banned from applying for competitive grants from the state," Janet Colm, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said in a statement in 2011. It would be one of many instances of abortion getting singled-out in the state.
Outcome: Abortion clinics fought the law, and the law won. Last month, the last known remaining abortion clinic in North Carolina shuttered its doors, after getting cited with 23 violations from the state.
Some bonus lawsuits not involved with Planned Parenthood:
In July a judge blocked enforcement of legislation requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges after a lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
How many ways are there to reword "required abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges"? Because that's what this law would have done too. So the Jackson Women's Health Organization tried to play by the rules and get those admitting privileges. But the group said that local hospitals ignored them. A judge blocked the law after the organization sued.