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AUSTIN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A coalition of LGBT activist groups are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Texas law that places heavy restrictions on abortion.
The partnership of organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, National LGBTQ Task Force and National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), seeks to strike down a 2013 law, often referred to as House Bill 2, which serves to regulate "abortion procedures, providers and facilities."
The law earned national attention after a grassroots effort rose up to protest it and the senate version was the subject of an 11-hour filibuster by future Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis in 2013. The bill prohibits abortions after 20 weeks of gestation with few exceptions and mandates women who take abortion-inducing drugs to visit a doctor as many as four times while using the contraceptives. It also requires doctors who perform abortions to acquire admitting privileges — often difficult to obtain — at a hospital within 30 miles of their office.
Additional mandates include regulatory standards for abortion mills, specifying sizes for rooms and doorways.
Following initial court challenges to the law that were upheld, House Bill 2 now faces the assessment of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Whole Women's Health v. Cole. Forty-five groups, including the Obama administration, have filed amicus briefs in the case.
The coalition of LGBT activist organizations are also among those who filed a brief. Apart from the above-mentioned organizations, the cooperation also includes Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Equal Justice Society, the National Black Justice Coalition, the Family Equality Council, the Human Rights Campaign, the National LGBTQ Task Force, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, Equality Federation, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Immigration Equality, the National Health Law Program, Movement Advancement Project, and Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom.
The brief details complaints that the current Texas abortion law is forcing all but 10 of the state's abortion mills to close, as they cannot meet the standards set forth in the bill. They claim the restrictions are both unnecessary and a threat to women's health.
LGBT activists have long coalesced with abortion proponents, with Texas coalition spokesperson Rea Carey asserting "the movements for reproductive health, rights and justice are indispensable for LGBTQ people."
Our work, as repro and LGBTQ advocates, is inseparable as we are working for the right to live our lives fully and the right to choose how we use our bodies. A ruling that favors discrimination under the guise of "women's health" would negatively impact LGBTQ people. For one, it would severely restrict our ability to control our reproductive health and sexual lives. Many of us — cisgender women, transgender men, intersex and gender non-conforming individuals, among others — can get pregnant and rely on a full range of reproductive health options, including abortion.
"Courts have always played a vital role in subjecting repressive laws to careful review to preserve core constitutional values," claims NCLR executive director Kate Kendell. "When courts have abdicated that role ... the principles of equal dignity and freedom have been compromised. We cannot allow that to happen to the millions of women in Texas who stand to lose access to safe and legal abortion care."
Another brief was filed by more than 100 lawyers describing how their own abortions have allegedly affected their life in a positive way.
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to begin hearing oral arguments on March 2.
To learn more about abortion in the United States, please watch our Premium program "Moral Compass: Abortion and Freedom."