Supreme Court Blocks Texas from Enforcing Parts of Abortion Law

Late today, the Supreme Court blocked Texas from enforcing key parts of a 2013 abortion law that would close all but eight of the state’s abortion facilities.

With three dissenting votes, the court suspended a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed Texas to enforce a rule making abortion clinics statewide spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades known as ambulatory surgical centers.

The appeals court’s ruling suspended an August decision by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who found that such upgrades were less about safety than making access to abortion difficult.

Yeakel’s ruling stopped the requirements, so the state appealed. The 5th Circuit is still considering the overall constitutionality of the measure but allowed it to go into effect.


Austin Abortion Clinic Closes Doors

An Austin abortion clinic and women’s health center is closing its doors, citing a controversial abortion law passed last session as the reason.

That’s according to a spokeswoman for Whole Woman’s Health in North Austin. The clinic provides surgical and medical abortions, along with annual exams, birth control and family counseling. The clinic is one of more than 20 that have closed since a package of abortion restrictions passed last session.

Known as House Bill 2, the law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals and restricts the way abortion-inducing drugs can be administered. But it’s another requirement set to go into effect in September that could cause all but six of the state’s clinics to close. That provision requires all clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and it’s the reason Whole Women’s Health in Austin says they’re shutting down.

This all happens just days before Whole Women’s Health and other abortion providers are going to trial over the surgical center requirement.

Opponents of the law say it places an undue burden on women by making abortion services harder to find. Supporters say it’s meant to increase the safety of the procedure.


Capital Tonight: Revisiting the Abortion Law Filibuster and Its Aftermath

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of last summer’s filibuster, where Sen. Wendy Davis stood and spoke for nearly 11 hours against a controversial abortion bill. The national attention helped propel her into the current Texas gubernatorial race.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we revisited that night to discuss the outcome of the anti-abortion legislation and what it means for Texas. Plus, we spoke to Cari Christman of Red State Women, a group formed after the filibuster that believes Republicans have the right answers to women’s health issues.


All eyes are on Dallas as Texas Democrats prepare to convene for their statewide convention Friday. Harvey Kronberg joined us to talk about how Davis’ filibuster anniversary plays into the platform and what issues are getting women interested. Davis isn’t the only one making waves, though. In the ongoing Texas Ethics Commission hearing of Michael Quinn Sullivan, questions arose over Empower Texans and the role it plays in supporting candidates.


In two separate cases Wednesday, the Supreme Court made decisions related to technology. In a tight, 6-3 ruling the Court told Aereo their use of broadcast signals was theft. Aereo is a streaming service that uses antenna to skim broadcast TV signals. In a more decisive ruling, the Court required law enforcement to have a warrant before searching cell phones, citing the vast amount of personal information kept on the modern phone. Geoff Bennett joined us from Washington to give us the details.

Capital Tonight: New groups seek to mobilize women voters

While Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis duke it out on the front lines in the race for governor, two new groups are working behind the scenes to influence the conversation.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how Red State Women and Planned Parenthood Texas Votes will to make their case to voters.


Gov. Rick Perry is making waves in New York once again, challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on his home turf while on a job-poaching trip. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about that story and more.


Former Houston Mayor Bill White is calling for a change in how we look at government debt and spending. He joined us to discuss his new book, “America’s Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse.”


Plus, the Supreme Court heard arguments on a landmark media case and handed down an affirmative action ruling with implications here in Texas.

New lawsuit filed over Texas abortion law

A second legal challenge has been filed against the state’s controversial new abortion law.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon on behalf of several abortion providers. It’s the first legal challenge to a provision set to take effect September 1, which would require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Currently, only six clinics in Texas currently meet those standards. Abortion rights advocates warn that fewer than 10 clinics in the state would be in compliance by the time the new provision takes effect.

The lawsuit also brings a revised challenge to the requirement that doctors who perform abortions receive admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The Supreme Court of Texas upheld that provision in a recent ruling, but the new lawsuit challenges it only as it applies to clinics in McAllen and El Paso.



Federal appeals court upholds abortion restrictions

A federal appeals court has ruled to uphold the new abortion restrictions passed last summer.

The ruling does not come as a surprise, following the court’s decision in October to overturn a temporary injunction put in place by a lower federal court.

Opponents of the law argued earlier this year that it places an undue burden on women. In its ruling, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said the law does not meet that standard.

The new law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and places strict limits on how abortion inducing drugs are administered. A third provision, which would go into effect in September, would require clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Only six abortion providers in the state currently meet those standards.


Capital Tonight: The strategy behind all those campaign ads

Early voting for the march primary starts soon, but many of the advertisements airing on TV now were paid for months ago.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to political experts about the strategy behind getting your attention.


From the Washington Post to the New York Times, Sen. Wendy Davis dominated headlines this week. Can she change the popular narrative on guns, abortion law and her life story? Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Emily Ramshaw of the Texas Tribune and Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report joined us to explore that question and more.



Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman researched a pair of statements by two candidates for lieutenant governor — all over the 17th Amendment.

Capital Tonight: Democrats push back against navigator rules

Texas officials are still fighting over the details of the Affordable Care Act. The focus this time around is on newly proposed state rules for insurance navigators — the counselors who help people shop for health insurance under the law. Monday, the Texas Department of Insurance heard round two of public comment on the proposed changes.

Meanwhile, a three-judge panel in New Orleans heard one last round of arguments over the merits of a controversial abortion law. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide on the law’s constitutionality after Planned Parenthood and other groups filed a lawsuit late last year.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where both laws stand in Texas.


Ahead of Monday’s hearing, Rep. Donna Howard wrote a letter to the Texas Department of Insurance detailing her concerns with the proposed restrictions. We spoke one-on-one with Rep. Howard about that issue and more.


In Washington, lawmakers got back to work after a long break. We checked in on their efforts to revisit a vote on unemployment insurance and more.

Appeals court hears last round of arguments on abortion law

A federal appeals court in New Orleans heard arguments over a controversial set of abortion restrictions Monday, in the last round of questioning before the panel issues its final ruling on the law’s constitutionality.

Attorneys for both sides had 20 minutes each to present their cases to the three-judge panel. The state argued that the law simply regulates the practice of medicine in the state, and that it’s within constitutional boundaries. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights argued against the law, saying it places a substantial burden on women seeking an abortion.

Abortion providers sued to block two parts of the law after it passed in the summer of 2013. One provision requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Another part of the law requires doctors to follow 13-year-old federal standards when administering an abortion-inducing drug, as opposed to an off-label regimen used commonly today. A federal district judge ruled in favor of a temporary injunction for part of the law in October, but the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has since overturned the ruling, allowing the law to go into effect.

The appeals court hasn’t indicated when it would issue its final ruling.


Capital Tonight: Researchers look into effect of state abortion law

State Board of Education members are busy this week, coming up with the best way to implement new graduation requirements approved as part of a curriculum overhaul last session. Lawmakers reduced the number of standardized tests high school students must pass from 15 to five, and they rewrote course requirements to promote vocational training.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at where the process stands now, and why Algebra II is the main sticking point.


The state’s new abortion law has survived another test in court, but a newly published article in the journal Contraception argues that its real-world implementation could be negatively affecting women’s health.

We spoke to Daniel Grossman and Joseph Potter of the Texas Policy Evaluation Project about the data they’ve seen.


In the days leading up to President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Dallas 50 years ago, the working media all had their assignments, eager to capture history. Ahead of our special coverage this week, we looked back at a young radio reporter who wasn’t prepared for the news he had to deliver to listeners across the state.