Former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who rose to national prominence after filibustering a restrictive Texas abortion law in 2013, will join other lawmakers from across the country in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to strike down those regulations.
On the same day the high court announced it would consider the constitutionality of the abortion law known as House Bill 2, Davis, a former state senator and Democratic gubernatorial nominee, told The Texas Tribune the story of her abortion will be part of the “friend of the court” brief.
“There are a number of legislators across the country who have shared their own stories of abortion and why it is important that that access be continued,” Davis said in an interview. “I’ve shared my story about an abortion decision I had to make under very difficult circumstances with a fetal abnormality that made my pregnancy, unfortunately, one that would not sustain a child born with any sort of quality of life."
The Texas restrictions under challenge would require abortion facilities to meet hospital-like ambulatory surgical center standards, including minimum sizes for rooms and doorways, pipelines for anesthesia and other modifications. A separate provision — which has already gone into effect and led to the closure of about half of the state’s abortion clinics — requires doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic.
The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the Texas case could prove a landmark in determining how far states can go in restricting abortion. A coalition of abortion providers sued the state, arguing the restrictions are unconstitutional because they impose an undue burden on women seeking abortions. State attorneys say the measure was passed to enhance the safety of abortions, and that no evidence has proved that H.B. 2 would impose an undue burden for the majority of women seeking the procedure.
Davis, who lost the gubernatorial election in 2014, revealed in a book published ahead of that election that she terminated two pregnancies for medical reasons more than 15 years ago.
“These stories, I think, are important as the court considers when a state may step in and create regulations," Davis said. "And it’s certainly going to be, I hope, a part of what their decision is based upon.”
Davis made national headlines in 2013 after her hours-long filibuster of the restrictions temporarily derailed their passage. The regulations, passed as part of House Bill 2, were later approved in a second special session and have been tangled up in federal court since. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case, which is expected next summer, could put an end to that legal battle.
If the court upholds the abortion restrictions, Texas would be left with about 10 abortion clinics — down from more than 40 clinics open before the abortion law was passed in 2013.