HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Over the weekend, the United States 5th Circuit Court canceled an important hearing for Texas abortion providers that was scheduled for Monday.
Though the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, Whole Women’s Health, filed an emergency motion to have the case sent back to the court, it was denied. Leading them to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in before it goes into effect on Sept. 1.
“Yes, today we actually asked the Supreme Court to step in because the 5th circuit denied our hearing, we were supposed to have our hearing today [Monday],” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO & president of Whole Women’s Health Clinic and Whole Women’s Health Alliance.
The lawsuit was filed by WWH against the defendant, Judge Austin Reeve Jackson of Texas’ 114th District Court, which seeks to block Senate Bill 8, also known as the Heartbeat Bill.
This bill could be especially damaging to the Rio Grande Valley because WWH is the lone-standing abortion clinic in the entire region.
“Whole Women’s Health of McAllen is the only clinic providing abortions in the Valley, in fact, we are the only clinic south of San Antonio that provides abortion services in Texas,” said Miller. “It’s very difficult to keep a clinic open in the state of Texas with all of the regulation that we have to go through, we have a lot of protesters so those types of things make it difficult.”
Though WWH provides other women-health services, Miller points out that the population in Rio Grande Valley will be isolated from abortion services since some are in the United States on visas.
“Many patients who are in the Valley with a visa that requires them to stay in the four-county lower Rio Grande Valley. They can’t cross the border check point in Falfurrias, they can’t go get an abortion in Louisiana or New Mexico,” said Miller.
This bill also looks to fine abortion providers a minimum of $10,000 if they are found providing abortions to anyone after 6 weeks of pregnancy, or after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“But it also gives people the ability to sue people in Texas for doing abortion advocacy work, and the language is very vague, and it’s very vague on purpose,” said Nancy Cardenas-Peña, a board member of La Frontera Fund, an abortion-resource group in South Texas.
Now, abortion providers and advocates stand by waiting for a response from the U.S. Supreme Court.