AUSTIN, Tx. — On Thursday, a federal appeals court allowed Texas to immediately begin enforcing tough new abortion restrictions. The move will shut down all but seven abortion clinics in the Lone Star State.
The U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans stayed a lower judge’s ruling while it considers the overall constitutionality of key portions of Texas’ sweeping 2013 abortion law, which Texas governor Rick Perry (R.) and other conservatives say is designed to protect women’s health.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in August that part of the law requiring Texas clinics to spend millions of dollars on hospital-level upgrades was less about safety than making access to abortion difficult.
Yeakel’s ruling in Austin suspended the upgrades requirement, but Texas is appealing, and asked the appeals court to let it enforce the law during that process.
Allowing to go forward the rules on hospital-level upgrades — including mandatory operating rooms and air filtration systems — would shutter more than a dozen clinics across Texas. It means only abortion facilities will remain open in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas.
None will be left along the Texas-Mexico border or outside any of the state’s largest urban areas.
Meanwhile, some clinics have already closed after another part of the 2013 law required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. That portion of the law has, already, been upheld by the 5th U.S. Circuit. Texas is now seeking a second outright reversal.
The trial in Texas is the latest battle over tough new abortion restrictions sweeping across the U.S. In charge of defending the law is Greg Abbott, Attorney General for Texas. Abbott is the leading Republican candidate to become governor in November.
Statement from Planned Parenthood Texas Votes Executive Director, Yvonne Gutierrez:
“Politicians, like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick, have imposed their personal beliefs on all Texas women and the consequences are devastating. For far too long the health and rights of Texas women have been treated like political bargaining chips. As the historic protests of last summer showed, Texans have had enough of this harmful behavior. Texas women — and all those who care about us — are organizing to fight back. And Planned Parenthood Texas Votes has a message to all Texans: If you’re upset that most Texas women have lost access to safe and legal abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, you need to vote on November 4th.”