LUBBOCK, Texas — Planned Parenthood and the ACLU of Texas today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas seeking to halt the enforcement of a Lubbock city ordinance that would ban abortion. In addition to banning abortion, the ordinance allows any citizen to sue doctors, nurses, or anyone else who helps a patient to obtain an abortion in Lubbock, including the person who drives them to the health center. Unless the court steps in, the ordinance is expected to take effect on June 1.
The Lubbock city council unanimously rejected the ordinance last year after independent legal experts commissioned by the city determined that the law was likely unconstitutional. Despite these concerns, the ordinance was put on the ballot and, on May 1, Lubbock voted to become the first city with an abortion provider within its city limits to approve an ordinance aimed at banning abortion.
Statement from Andre Segura, Legal Director, ACLU of Texas:
“Anti-abortion advocates have been crisscrossing the state, pressuring municipalities to pass these unconstitutional and malicious anti-abortion ordinances for many months. These ordinances stigmatize abortion care, hurt those who provide it, and shame the people who need access to it. While Lubbock is not the first city to pass this type of ordinance, it is the only one with an abortion clinic and the nearest clinic within hundreds of miles. We’re suing to protect the constitutional rights of Texans and to ensure that every single person has access to all health care options — regardless of where they live.”
Statement from Ken Lambrecht, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas:
“Lubbock’s controversial new ordinance violates our patients’ constitutional right to access abortion and we are expecting the court to stop this unlawful ordinance. Planned Parenthood is proud to provide high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care to hundreds of patients in Lubbock since opening our health center last year. This year, those services expanded to include abortion services. Patients are counting on our health center in Lubbock, and we are committed to expanding access to affordable health care services — especially during the pandemic. Today, we are standing up for the rights of our Lubbock patients to make their own medical decisions.”
Statement from Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes:
“Every Texan deserves the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions. Abortion is essential health care, and nearly one in four women in the U.S. will have an abortion by the age of 45. The Lubbock ordinance is unconstitutional and flies in the face of what we know to be true: the majority of Texans support access to safe, legal abortion. Lubbock’s unlawful ordinance aligns with what we are also seeing in the Texas Legislature, which passed an extreme six-week abortion ban, which would allow anyone to sue a doctor or medical professional for conducting or assisting with an abortion — and even would subject friends or family members who help a patient obtain care to the threat of lawsuits. Allowing private citizens to enforce abortion restrictions will lead to frivolous and harrassing lawsuits that will overburden our court systems. The Lubbock ordinance and the six-week ban passed in the Texas Legislature are blatant attempts to push abortion care out of reach for the people who need it most. Planned Parenthood is committed to doing everything it can to protect its patients and essential reproductive health care.”
A copy of the complaint can be found here. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services brought the lawsuit on behalf of itself, its physicians, staff and patients in Lubbock. Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Robin M. Green, ACLU of Texas, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America.