Federal Appeals Court Upholds Strict Texas Abortion Law

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Decision by Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans could close most of state’s clinics.

A federal appeals court upheld a Texas law that requires abortion clinics to qualify as “ambulatory surgical centers,” a decision opponents say will shut down most clinics in the state.

The plaintiffs, a group of abortion clinics and doctors, argued that the 2013 law unconstitutionally restricts the right to obtain an abortion.

But in a ruling Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the plaintiffs failed to prove that and lifted an injunction issued by a lower court to prevent the enforcement of key elements of the law.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which helped represent the plaintiffs, said it would file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court. “If permitted to take effect, the impact will be devastating for women in Texas seeking access to abortion services,” said Stephanie Toti, a center lawyer.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, praised the decision, saying the Texas law “both protects the unborn and ensures Texas women are not subjected to unsafe and unhealthy conditions.”

Federal courts have been grappling with similar measures passed in other states that increase requirements on clinics and doctors. Supporters say they protect women’s lives by raising medical standards, but opponents say they diminish access to abortion by requiring clinics to spend millions of dollars to update already safe facilities.

The courts’ position on such laws has been mixed. The same appeals court earlier blocked a Mississippi law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, but upheld a similar rule in Texas.

“There aren’t a lot of new providers opening their doors,” said Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in reproductive rights.

But abortion opponents said enforcement of the law will ensure women receive better care.

“Texans should have full freedom to prioritize women’s health and safety over the bottom line of abortionists,” said Natalie Decker, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom.

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