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Federal Appeals Court Allows Texas to Implement Abortion Rules

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photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri
A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the portions of an abortion law that had been struck down by a lower court's federal judge in Austin will go into effect immediately.

A panel of judges at the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing portions of a controversial Texas abortion law to go into effect immediately. [Read a PDF version of the ruling here.]

Parts of the law were struck down by a federal judge in Austin just before they were scheduled to go into effect last month. Today's ruling allows those provisions to go into effect pending the outcome of the state's appeal.

“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,” said Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for the Texas Attorney General’s Office, in a written statement.

Abortion providers had filed a lawsuit last April, seeking to block two provisions. One that requires abortion doctors to get admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic, but in this lawsuit, only as it pertains to doctors in El Paso and McAllen.

The second provision requires abortion clinics to upgrade to ambulatory surgical centers. This provision in particular means most of the state's abortion clinics will close down immediately, except for about seven clinics that have adopted the standards of these hospital-style centers.

"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," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Texas had already seen about half it's abortion clinics close since 2013, when HB2 was passed by the Legislature.

This is the second time the Fifth Circuit Court has reversed a lower court's ruling that blocks implementation of parts of the law. 

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