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Austin Banner Drop for Texas Abortion Access

Banner on an overpass: Abortions Save Lives. Keep clinics Open. Block #HB2.

During rush hour on September 11, 2014, activists tied this banner to an overpass of Interstate Highway 35.

On Thursday activists in Austin, Texas performed a “banner drop” — tying a painted sheet to a highway overpass — above Interstate Highway 35 during a busy evening’s rush hour. The banner read, “Abortions Save Lives, Keep Clinics Open, Block #HB2.”

House Bill 2, or the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill, places draconian restrictions on the ability of residents to access abortion. It’s already forced many clinics in the state to shut down through its unreasonable requirements such as hospital admitting privileges for doctors and holding clinics to the standards of surgical operating theaters, even if they only administer abortion with pills.

A lawsuit brought by Whole Women’s health clinics successfully blocked portions of the bill. Federal Court Judge Yeakel blocked the final portions of the bill, set to go into effect on September 1.

From RH Reality Check’s Andrea Grimes:

A federal judge blocked part of Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law, HB 2, late on Friday, ruling that its restrictions on Texas abortion providers—requiring them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers—are unconstitutional.

Without the court’s injunction, HB 2 could have reduced the number of Texas abortion providers to eight.

‘The act’s ambulatory surgical center requirement places an unconstitutional undue burden on women throughout Texas,’ ruled Judge Lee Yeakel, who also determined that the portion of the law that requires abortion-providing doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges is unconstitutional as it applies to doctors in El Paso and the Rio Grande Valley; those doctors also brought claims against the state in a lawsuit filed this summer.

The state’s attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott immediately filed an appeal against Yeakel’s ruling, only to be rebuffed by the Fifth Circuit. One clinic was even able to re-open.

But the bill returns to court on Friday, September 12 where many worry the victory for abortion access could come to an end.

Ian Millhiser, writing for ThinkProgress, calls it a “Disaster for Team Choice:”

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.