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Case Name Planned Parenthood Center for Choice v. Abbott PB-TX-0016
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00323 ( W.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Planned Parenthood Litigation
Case Summary
COVID-19 summary: On March 25, 2020, Planned Parenthood filed this suit challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's interpretation of Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order. The Attorney General singled out abortion providers and suggested that he believed the provision of nonemergency ... read more >
COVID-19 summary: On March 25, 2020, Planned Parenthood filed this suit challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's interpretation of Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order. The Attorney General singled out abortion providers and suggested that he believed the provision of nonemergency abortions would violate the Executive Order. On March 30, 2020, the district court issued an order granting plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order, but the Fifth Circuit temporarily stayed the district court's order. On April 20, 2020, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals directed the district court to partially vacate the temporary restraining order and the plaintiffs withdrew their motion for preliminary injunction on April 23. On June 24, the parties submitted a joint stipulation in which the plaintiffs agreed not to seek attorney’s fees other costs or expenses from the defendant, and the defendant agreed not to enforce the March 22 Executive Order until a final non-appealable judgment has been made.


On March 25, 2020, Planned Parenthood and other Texas abortion providers brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 seeking declaratory and injunctive relief in the Western District of Texas. Represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Lawyering Project, the plaintiffs challenged the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's interpretation of Governor Greg Abbott’s March 22, 2020, Executive Order GA 09, “Relating to hospital capacity during the COVID-19 disaster” (“the Executive Order”), as applied to abortion. Further, to the extent that the Texas Attorney General's interpretation is consistent with the Executive Order, plaintiffs challenged the order itself. The plaintiffs also challenged the Texas Medical Board’s emergency amendment to 22 TAC § 187.57 (“Emergency Rule”), which imposes the same requirements as the Executive Order.

Citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the need to preserve hospital capacity and personal protective equipment, the Executive Order prohibits all surgeries and procedures that are not immediately medically necessary to correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without immediate receipt of such care would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death. On March 23, 2020, Attorney General Paxton issued a press release singling out abortion providers and suggesting that he believed the provision of nonemergency abortions would violate the Executive Order. The release stated that “[t]hose who violate the governor’s order will be met with the full force of the law” and threatened criminal penalties, including jail time. The plaintiffs alleged that by stating that the Executive Order applies to “any type of abortion,” the Attorney General’s news release suggested it also prohibits medication abortion, which involves taking medications orally.

The plaintiffs alleged constitutional equal protection and substantive due process violations. First, the plaintiffs claimed that by banning all non-emergency abortion prior to viability, or alternatively by banning non-emergency abortion after ten weeks of pregnancy and allowing no exception for patients prior to ten weeks of pregnancy, the Executive Order and corresponding Attorney General interpretation and the Emergency Rule, as applied to abortion, violate substantive due process. Second, the plaintiffs claimed that by selectively burdening patients’ fundamental right to abortion without justification, and by singling abortion providers and their patients out for differential treatment from providers of other medical services and their patients, the Executive Order and corresponding Attorney General interpretation and the Emergency Rule, as applied to abortion, violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs sought immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order, followed by a preliminary injunction, and ultimately a permanent injunction, restraining the defendants from enforcing or complying with the Executive Order and corresponding Attorney General interpretation and the Emergency Rule, as applied to abortion. The same day, the plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction.

The defendants responded on March 30, 2020, arguing that the court should deny the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order for five reasons: (1) the plaintiffs cannot establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claims because they are being treated exactly like every other physician and clinic in Texas during a national emergency, and the right to abortion does not have preeminence over all of the other individual liberties that are being temporarily curtailed; (2) the plaintiffs fail to allege irreparable harm because they have not alleged that even a single patient will not be able to receive an abortion after the expiration of the Executive Order in three weeks; (3) the balance of the equities weighs in the State’s favor because the critical need to protect public health justifies this temporary order; (4) preserving across-the-board application of the Executive Order is overwhelmingly in the public’s interest; and (5) and the court cannot issue a temporary restraining order in any event because it lacks jurisdiction.

Also on March 30, 2020, District Judge Lee Yeakel granted the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order until a telephonic hearing on the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction on April 13. 2020 WL 1502102. Judge Yeakel stated that while he understands the public health concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Executive Order as applied to abortion violates Roe v. Wade.

The defendants filed an emergency motion for stay and a petition for a writ of mandamus in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. On March 31, 2020, The circuit court temporarily stayed the district court's order. On April 8, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a second motion for a temporary restraining order, which the court granted on April 9. 2020 WL 1815587. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals again stayed the district court's order, but on April 13 dissolved the stay as to medication abortions because it was unclear whether the Executive Order applied to medication abortions. 800 Fed.Appx. 293; 2020 WL 1866010.

On April 17, 2020, the plaintiffs filed their second amended complaint.

On April 20, 2020, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the defendants' petition for a writ of mandamus and directed the district court to vacate the temporary restraining order with respect to:
1. The part restraining enforcement of the Executive Order as a “categorical ban on all abortions provided by Plaintiffs;”
2. The part restraining the Governor of Texas and the Attorney General;
3. The part restraining enforcement of the Executive Order as to medication abortions;
4. The part restraining enforcement of the Executive Order as to patients who would reach 18 weeks after the first day of their last menstrual period on the expiration date of the Executive Order and who would be “unlikely” to be able to obtain abortion services in Texas; and
5. The part restraining enforcement of the Executive Order after 11:59 p.m. on April 21, 2020. 956 F.3d 696.

However, the court did not vacate the temporary restraining order with respect to the part restraining the Executive Order as to patients “who, based on the treating physician’s medical judgment, would be past the legal limit for an abortion in Texas—22 weeks after the first day of the patient's last menstrual period—on April 22, 2020.”

On April 23, 2020, plaintiffs provided notice to the court that they withdrew their pending motion for a preliminary injunction in light of the defendants' response.

On June 24, the parties submitted a joint stipulation in which the plaintiffs agreed not to seek attorney’s fees other costs or expenses from the defendant, and the defendant agreed not to enforce the March 22 Executive Order until a final non-appealable judgment was made.

The case is ongoing.

Elena Malik - 04/22/2020
Averyn Lee - 07/04/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Abortion
Medical/Mental Health
Reproductive health care (including birth control, abortion, and others)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Texas
Plaintiff Description Planned Parenthood Center for Choice (“PP Houston”), Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services (“PPGT Surgical Health Services”), Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center (“PPST Surgical Center”), Whole Woman’s Health, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center (“Southwestern”), Brookside Women’s Medical Center PA d/b/a Brookside Women’s Health Center and Austin Women’s Health Center (“Austin Women’s”), and Dr. Robin Wallace, M.D.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 03/25/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-00323 (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-3)]
PB-TX-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunctive and Memorandum of Law in Support [ECF# 7 (& 7-1 to 7-10)]
PB-TX-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Statement in Support of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order; Declaration of Jane Doe in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injuction [ECF# 29;29-1]
PB-TX-0016-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 30, 30-1, 30-2]
PB-TX-0016-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Request for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 40] (2020 WL 1502102) (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia [ECF# 41]
PB-TX-0016-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Second Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Memorandum in Support [ECF# 56, 56-1, 56-2]
PB-TX-0016-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Second Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 63] (2020 WL 1815587) (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petition for Writ of Mandamus to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas [Ct. of App. ECF# 65] (800 Fed.Appx. 293)
PB-TX-0016-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Application to Justice Alito to Vacate Administrative Stay of Temporary Restraining Order Entered by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
PB-TX-0016-0019.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/11/2020
Source: Supreme Court website
On Petition for Writ of Mandamus to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas [Ct. of App. ECF# 74] (2020 WL 1866010)
PB-TX-0016-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/13/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Extending Order Granting Plaintiffs' Second Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Scheduling Order for Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 82] (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 86]
PB-TX-0016-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Ct. of App. ECF# 94] (956 F.3d 696)
PB-TX-0016-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [Ct. of App. ECF# 00515388333] (2020 WL 1918714)
PB-TX-0016-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 95] (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 99] (W.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0016-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
State Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 100, 100-1, 100-2, 100-3, 100-4, 100-5, 100-6]
PB-TX-0016-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Withdrawal of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 101]
PB-TX-0016-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Dennis, James L. (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0009 | PB-TX-0016-0012 | PB-TX-0016-0013 | PB-TX-0016-0016
Duncan, Stuart Kyle (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0009 | PB-TX-0016-0012 | PB-TX-0016-0013 | PB-TX-0016-0016
Elrod, Jennifer Walker (Fifth Circuit) show/hide docs
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Yeakel, Earl Leroy III (W.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Amiri, Brigitte A. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0010 | PB-TX-0016-0015 | PB-TX-0016-0018 | PB-TX-0016-9000
Clapman, Alice (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0001 | PB-TX-0016-0002 | PB-TX-0016-0003 | PB-TX-0016-0010
Cocuzza, Francesca G (New York) show/hide docs
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Duane, Molly Rose (New York) show/hide docs
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Muniz, Richard (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Muqaddam, Rabia (New York) show/hide docs
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Murray, Julie Alyssa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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O'Connell, Patrick J (Texas) show/hide docs
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Salvador, Anjali (Texas) show/hide docs
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Sandman, Jennifer (New York) show/hide docs
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Segura, Andre (Texas) show/hide docs
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Shah, Sneha (New York) show/hide docs
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Sharma, Rupali (Maine) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0001 | PB-TX-0016-0002 | PB-TX-0016-0010 | PB-TX-0016-0015 | PB-TX-0016-0018 | PB-TX-0016-0019 | PB-TX-0016-9000
Swanson, Hannah (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Toti, Stephanie (New York) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0001 | PB-TX-0016-0002 | PB-TX-0016-0010 | PB-TX-0016-0015 | PB-TX-0016-0018 | PB-TX-0016-0019 | PB-TX-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Albright, Thomas A. (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0004 | PB-TX-0016-0017
Bangert, Ryan Lee (Missouri) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-0004 | PB-TX-0016-0017
Biggs, Adam Arthur (Texas) show/hide docs
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Bloodworth, Kristin K. (Texas) show/hide docs
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Butrus, John J Jr. (Texas) show/hide docs
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Dippel, Leslie (Texas) show/hide docs
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Duarte, Ruben Gabriel (Texas) show/hide docs
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Green, Robert D (Texas) show/hide docs
PB-TX-0016-9000
Hacker, Heather Gebelin (Texas) show/hide docs
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Hedge, Laura Beckman (Texas) show/hide docs
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Mateer, Jeffrey C (Texas) show/hide docs
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McCarty, Darren L (Texas) show/hide docs
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Nelson, Anthony J. (Texas) show/hide docs
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Paxton, Ken (Texas) show/hide docs
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Pfeiffer, Justin C (Texas) show/hide docs
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Pope, Patrick (Texas) show/hide docs
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Ramirez, Josephine L (Texas) show/hide docs
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Stephens, Andrew Bowman (Texas) show/hide docs
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Walton, Benjamin S (Texas) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Cameron, Daniel (Kentucky) show/hide docs
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Fitch, Lynn (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Hill, Curtis T. Jr. (Indiana) show/hide docs
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Hunter, Mike (Oklahoma) show/hide docs
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Landry, Jeff (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Lill, David (Texas) show/hide docs
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Marshall, Steve (Alabama) show/hide docs
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Morrisey, Patrick (West Virginia) show/hide docs
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Murrill, Elizabeth Baker (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Peterson, Doug (Nebraska) show/hide docs
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Ravnsborg, Jason (South Dakota) show/hide docs
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Reyes, Sean D. (Utah) show/hide docs
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Slatery, Herbert III (Tennessee) show/hide docs
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St. John, Joseph S (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Wasden, Lawrence G. (Idaho) show/hide docs
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Wilson, Alan (South Carolina) show/hide docs
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Yost, Dave (Ohio) show/hide docs
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