News Law and Policy

Texas Defense of Omnibus Anti-Abortion Law Could Cost State Millions

Teddy Wilson

“The substantial expense of successfully bringing this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court is just one consequence of Texas’ decision to defend this sham law, which denied women their basic rights and shuttered clinics that are still struggling to reopen,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. The center's attorneys “dedicated thousands of hours” to the legal fight against the unconstitutional measures of HB 2.

Texas lawmakers may have cost the state more than $4.5 million in litigation costs associated with the 2013 omnibus anti-abortion law known as HB 2, parts of which were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on Friday filed a request for $4.5 million from the state, covering attorney’s fees and other expenses related to the lawsuit challenging the GOP-backed law, reported the Texas Tribune. The request includes $2.7 million in legal fees for CRR and $1.5 million in legal fees for its legal partner the Morrison & Foerster law firm.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of CRR, said in a statement that the organization’s attorneys “dedicated thousands of hours” to the legal fight against the unconstitutional measures of HB 2.

“Time and again, politicians in Texas have proven to be as reckless with taxpayer dollars as they are with the health and well-being of the people they serve,” Northup said.

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HB 2 contained multiple provisions that restrict access to abortion care. The Supreme Court ruled that the law’s admitting privileges requirement and the ambulatory surgical center requirement created an “undue burden” for people seeking abortion care, and were therefore unconstitutional.

The State of Texas has already spent more than $1 million defending HB 2’s provisions against two lawsuits. The legal costs associated with Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt totaled $768,722, and the cost associated with Planned Parenthood v. Abbott cost another $311,355.

Northup said that the financial cost to the state was just one consequence of the law that shuttered abortion clinics across Texas.

“The substantial expense of successfully bringing this fight to the U.S. Supreme Court is just one consequence of Texas’ decision to defend this sham law, which denied women their basic rights and shuttered clinics that are still struggling to reopen,” Northup said.

States have spent millions of taxpayer dollars defending anti-choice laws passed by Republican-controlled legislatures.

South Dakota has spent $170,000 since 2011 defending an anti-choice law. Wisconsin in September agreed to reimburse abortion providers in the state nearly $1.8 million in legal fees incurred while fighting an anti-choice law that was first blocked in 2013.

The State of Texas is expected to file a response by November 4. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will then decide if the state is required to reimburse the organizations.

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