A banner declaring victory hung Monday morning from the northeast Austin office of Whole Woman's Health. Heather Busby with NARAL was among those who were there to celebrate the Supreme Court decision.
"Yeah we were incredible pleased the Highest Court in the land has affirmed what we know to be true, that these are insurmountable burdens on people seeking abortion had to face, and having this affirmed by the Supreme Court is quite a vindication,” said Busby.
House Bill 2 required abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges and also required clinics to meet standards set for outpatient surgery centers. The legislation passed in the Texas House on a 96 to 49 vote. It cleared the Senate, down partisan lines, 19 to 11.
“It was passed on a pack of lies, it was a sham,” said Busby.
The vote announced Monday was 5 to 3. The Supreme Court ruled that the Texas law caused a substantial obstacle and created an undue burden on women wanting to exercise their constitutional right to have an abortion. In front of the Supreme Court, a large crowd was quick to denounce the ruling.
"Today women lost. Today the Supreme Court put politics over the health and safety of women in this country,” said Kristan Hawkins with Students for Life.
Others, outside the High Court, celebrated the decision.
"The Supreme Court has sent a clear message to the tactics of politicians who used underhanded means to shut down abortion clinics,” said Nancy Northup with the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in a statement said the Supreme Court’s decision "erodes states' lawmaking authority to safeguard the health and safety of women." He went on to say the ruling also “subjects more innocent life to being lost."
Lt Governor Dan Patrick, during a News Conference in Houston, the Texas senate would work on the issue “in the next legislative session." He went on to say;
Frustrated would not be a strong enough word for my reaction to the Supreme Court today, that has apparently made the decision that they are the medical board for the whole country--that they know better, said Patrick.
The High Court ruling comes on the 3rd anniversary of the legislative showdown over HB2. It caused a firestorm at the state capitol and launched the failed gubernatorial campaign for Wendy Davis. The then state senator from Fort Worth tried a filibuster to stop the bill from passing.
Pressure under the capitol dome increased with each passing hour, but the 11 hour talking marathon didn’t work. It did make Davis and her tennis shoes national sensations in liberal circles. Monday in a social media post, Davis said : "today made that day 3 yrs ago all worth it!"
Carol Everett, a former abortion provider who testified in support of HB 2 three years ago, was considering the battle three years ago.
Everett believes the Supreme Court decision could have unintended consequences.
"If they can do this with abortion, what else can they do it with, if they allow abortions, one of the most common surgical procedures to be performed in a facility that doesn’t meet any minimum standards, what’s next, will they be doing your gallbladder in a facility that doesn’t meet standards,” said Everett.
A legal challenge by HB 2 supporters, sources tell FOX 7, is already being considered. A legislative re-write is also a possibility. That could happen when the Regular Session begins in January a late Summer/early Fall Special Session may also be an option. The Governor's office did not respond to requests about the chances for a special session.