Who could forget Wendy Davis’ spectacular filibuster? It was this filibuster that caused Texas Governor Rick Perry to hold a second special session, in order to allow the Texas legislature to pass extremely restrictive new abortion legislation – part of which was struck down this morning. These two sessions cost Texas taxpayers an estimated 1.6 million dollars because each special session, which can last up to 30 days, costs around $800,000.
You heard that correct. Texas lawmakers spent months looking for ways to cut state expenses — and then racked up around $1.6 million in new costs during two special sessions (plus even more in litigation costs) only to have part of the legislation struck down; proving once again that Rick Perry is a giant hypocrite who claims to be fiscally conservative, while bleeding the taxpayers dry to pass unconstitutional legislation.
Any law student with a basic understanding of constitutional law could have predicted this outcome. Unsurprisingly, US District Judge Lee Yeakel blocked the provision in the law that required doctors performing abortions to have an agreement with a local hospital to admit patients, thereby foiling another attempt by the “pro-life” movement to use TRAP laws to circumvent a woman’s constitutional right to choice.
Moreover, although proponents of these laws argue that their purpose is to provide a safer environment for women seeking abortions, in 17 states they have been held partially unconstitutional and struck down – the same predictable outcome which occurred today.
Specifically, the court concluded that, “The act’s admitting-privileges provision [was] without a rational basis and place[d] a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.” The Court went on to say the provision was unconstitutional because the admitting privileges at issue, “Have no rational relationship to improved patient care [and] do not rationally relate to the State’s legitimate interest in protecting the unborn.”
Further, the Court held that the hospital-admitting-privileges provision of the act placed an “undue burden” on a woman seeking abortion services in Texas because it had the effect of presenting a “substantial obstacle” to access to abortion services. The Court went on to point out that,
“By requiring abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges, the evidence is that there will be abortion clinics that will close. The record reflects that 24 counties in the Rio Grande
Valley would be left with no abortion provider because those providers do not have admitting privileges and are unlikely to get them.”
Of course, this was the legislature’s plan all along – pass a law that did not per se ban abortions in violation of the Constitution – but instead necessarily banned them by closing down providers. Fortunately for Texas women and the pro-choice movement, today’s ruling was a victory. Unfortunately for Texas taxpayers, today’s ruling came (literally) at their expense.