An abortion facility law in Texas can now be fully enforced due to a federal appeals court ruling. On Thursday, the legislation signed into law by Governor Rick Perry was given the green light by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court in New Orleans. The law does not restrict abortions, but it requires facilities offering the procedure to enhance safety by meeting increased “hospital-level” operating standards.
In 2012, there were more than 40 Texas abortion centers, today there are 21. Some of the abortion clinics reportedly decided to close instead of initiating procedure room upgrades and new safety standards. One of the changes ushered in under the new law is the requirement for all abortion clinics in Texas to have hospital admitting privileges in case a woman goes into some type of distress during the procedure.
In August, a lower court blocked the Texas abortion law, a decision which pro-choice activists deemed a victory for women’s rights. The federal appeals court ruling is noted as a “stay pending a full appeal,” but the court did write in the ruling that Texas is likely to prevail in the case. Opponents to the law have stated Rick Perry and Texas lawmakers are merely making a veiled attempt to ban abortion in the state. Those who support the measure note that government regulations are often imposed on hospitals, schools, businesses, and the energy industry – and carry a hefty price tag as well.
Texas abortion clinics in the western portion of the state and on the Mexican border will reportedly be few and far between. An abortion clinic in the border town of McAllen closed after the law was passed, then reopened after the lower court ruling. However, it is expected to close again. Pro-choice advocates are concerned that women seeking an abortion in the region will now have a 300-mile drive to terminate the pregnancy.
“Women of McAllen have been traveling outside their city for nearly a year and plaintiffs made no showing that clinics in San Antonio or any other city have been deluged,” the federal appeals court stated in the ruling.
Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup had this to say about the Texas abortion law.
“Today’s ruling has gutted Texas women’s constitutional rights and access to critical reproductive health care and stands to make safe, legal abortion essentially disappear overnight.”
State attorneys noted that nine in 10 Texas women will still live within a 150-mile drive from an abortion clinic. “This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women,” Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott’s staffer Lauren Bean said. Abbott is favored to become the next governor of the Lone Star State.
The seven abortion clinics in Texas, which already meet or exceed the new safety standards and hospital-admitting guidelines, are located in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, and Houston.
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[Image via: Jill Stanek]