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Fifth Circuit Sets December Deadline for Briefs in Texas Abortion Law Lawsuit

photo courtesy Bobak Ha'Eri
Briefs from both sides in a Texas aborrtion law lawsuit are due by Dec. 8, 2014 before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Some abortion clinics in Texas have started reopening, following the U.S. Supreme Court's temporary stay of parts of the state's restrictive abortion law.

"All of those 13 clinics that had been forced to close by the Fifth Circuit are now able to reopen, and specifically El Paso and McAllen," says Esha Bhandari, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is litigating a lawsuit against two provisions of the state’s 2013 abortion law.

Because of the Supreme Court’s order, Texas clinics don’t have to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers, and abortion doctors at two clinics in El Paso and McAllen are being allowed to perform surgical abortions without needing admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic.

That's only while the appeals process continues in a lawsuit against provisions of the 2013 abortion law.

Amy Hagstrom Miller is the president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health. She says she’s reopening her McAllen clinic.

"Reopening is not as simple as it might seem on the surface," Hagstrom Miller says. "We’ve let a lot of staff off. We have some real business financial issues that have been related to our clinics being closed for so long."

She says she’s laid off at least 50 staff members plus 10 physicians and is now more than $500,000 dollars in debt.

Opponents of the law say the purpose of the provisions is to raise the standard of care for women who get abortions and to ensure women's health isn't at risk.

Briefs from both sides are due by Dec. 8 before the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Oral arguments on the constitutionality of the provisions will follow.

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