The Obama administration has appealed to the Supreme Court to reject a Texas law that restricts a woman's right to have an abortion. The executive branch of the federal government said that the law makes it difficult for a pregnant woman to receive medical treatment.
If allowed to take effect, US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli wrote, the law would close many more of the state's clinics and force hundreds of thousands of Texas women to travel great distances if they seek to terminate pregnancies.
"Those requirements are unnecessary to protect – indeed, would harm – women's health, and they would result in closure of three quarters of the abortion clinics in the state," he stated.
Obama administration lawyers said the law's requirements were "unnecessary" considering that "treatments provided in Texas were safe and have produced low rate of complications".
In December 2015, Texan women's healthcare providers filed a motion to challenge the 2013 state law after the New Orleans-based US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit reversed a federal trial judge's decision that the law's requirements were an unconstitutional burden on women's access to abortion. The law was allowed to take effect on 31 October 2013.
The new appeal in the Supreme Court will be heard on 2 March, with a ruling expected by end-June. Texas state officials who defended the regulations have until the end of January to respond to the challengers.
What is House Bill 2?
The House Bill 2 (HB2) is a law passed in Texas in October 2013, which contains multiple abortion restrictions, including a ban on abortions of pregnancies over 20-weeks; requirement of up to four clinic visits for medication abortion along with need for abortion patients to return within 14 days for a follow-up visit.
Additionally, Texas abortion doctors are required to get admitting privileges at a hospital within 48 km (30 miles) of their clinic. Abortion clinics would also need to meet the requirements of Ambulatory Surgical Centres.
The law does not ban pregnancies and its supporters claimed that the restrictions will make the procedures safer for women. However, because of the restrictions on clinics, a majority of the centres across the state will be forced to shut down, leaving a handful of clinics in Texas.