Omnibus lawsuit against anti-abortion laws

Talk about going big.

Two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned major provisions of Texas’ omnibus House Bill 2, abortion rights groups want to use that decision to take down years’ worth of anti-abortion legislation, before the court makeup changes. In a 5-3 decision, the justices determined that provisions of the 2013 law didn’t provide “medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.” Emboldened by the ruling, abortion providers went through years of Texas regulations to determine others that could be challenged under the same health and safety standard, leading to the lawsuit filed against the attorney general, state health department, and others.

“I think of this as an omnibus repeal,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the lead plaintiff in the HB 2 case and the new lawsuit. “There’s a new standard, and we can look at it to challenge a bunch of things at once.”

The lawsuit, which Hagstrom Miller calls “the big fix,” is far-reaching. Filed in federal district court in Austin, it challenges a parental notification law from 1999 and abortion reporting requirements from 2017. It takes issue with the state’s ultrasound requirement, mandatory waiting period, parental consent requirement, restrictions on medication abortion and telehealth services, provider licensing laws and more than 20 other restrictions.


Work began on the new lawsuit not long after the HB 2 decision. Last May, Hagstrom Miller hinted at litigation, saying at the reopening of her Austin clinic that “we have the opportunity to try to get some other things fixed by the Supreme Court before the makeup changes — if the makeup changes.” She had already started brainstorming this lawsuit, holding meetings with providers and scribbling regulations to tackle on whiteboards, she told the Observer on Wednesday.

The new challenge comes as conservative lawmakers around the country are aggressively pushing anti-abortion legislation. One bill proposed during the last session of the Texas Legislature would have criminalized abortion and charged women and providers with murder. The Legislature passed a measure that bans the most common form of second-trimester abortion, and another that requires the burial or cremation of fetal remains after abortions and miscarriages. Both are currently blocked, but some anti-abortion advocates hope to push the former to the Supreme Court.

The Trib lists the plaintiffs: the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, the Afiya Center, Fund Texas Choice, the Lilith Fund, the Texas Equal Access Fund, the West Fund and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, who serves as medical director of the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance clinic. I can imagine them scoring at least a significant partial win in district court, then running into significant resistance from the Fifth Circuit – basically, exactly what happened with the lawsuit against HB2 – and after that who knows. It’s a bold strategy and has the potential for a lot of good, but as with any bold strategy there’s risk as well. Needless to say, I wish them all the best. A press release from the West Fund is here, and the Chron and Texas Monthly have more.

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9 Responses to Omnibus lawsuit against anti-abortion laws

  1. Ross says:

    I don’t get the opposition to parental notification in these situations. A parent has pretty much absolute control over what medical procedures are done to their child, abortion shouldn’t be different, especially since there’s a way around it in the courts. The rest of the restrictions need to go, though.

  2. C.L. says:

    If abortion is legal, I’m confused why we have a zillion restrictions and notification requirements surrounding it. Imagine the insanity of we had the same rules/regs surrounding someone needing an appendectomy or bunion removal. Must have something to with that lack of separation of Church and State.

  3. C.L. says:

    *if we…

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    I agree with you Ross, in fact from a purely scientific view, life begins at inception. The question assuming one believes in a God, would be when does the soul come into existence? Either way I decided that the best way for me is to know that it was way beyond my understanding and that it is a question that is best answered by the one that will judge on judgment day.

  5. C.L. says:

    @Manny, does The Cheeto have a soul ?

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    He is going to hell. Does that answer your question C.L.? All his racists followers and supporters, and studies show that most of them are racists and bigots will be here with him worshiping the man god.

  7. C.L. says:

    @Manny. No, that does not answer my question.

  8. Manny Barrera says:

    C.L. a flower has no soul, so it does not go to hell nor join God in the great endeavor.

    Do you believe in God, C.L.? Do you believe there is a soul?

    Wonder where the soul is wondering about waiting for the conception to occur?

    What the Catholic Church states is similar

    Now, I for one, don’t believe hardly anything that is in the Bible especially the old Testament. If everyone died but Noah and his children, where did all the white people come from?

    And Trump and his racists followers have lost their souls, if one believes that it comes before actual birth.

    How much of the biblical teaching do I believe, I don’t know, but I have not lost my soul. Do you still have your soul C.L.?

  9. Ross says:

    @ck, he has a sole on his shoe. Probably has no soul otherwise. Definitely an asshole.

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