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Appeals Court Upholds Most of Texas HB2 Abortion Law

Alexa Ura
Texas Tribune

A federal appeals court is allowing several disputed elements of Texas’ HB2 abortion law to go into effect.

Abortion clinics had challenged the law’s requirements that they upgrade their facilities to meet the hospital-like standards of so-called “ambulatory surgical centers.”  Plaintiffs also challenged the requirement that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic – though that provision was only challenged in the case of two clinics in McAllen and El Paso.

Today, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals mostly upheld those requirements. Although the judges exempted a clinic in McAllen from the ambulatory surgical center requirement and exempted one doctor in McAllen from the admitting privileges requirement.

"Not since before Roe v. Wade has a law or court decision had the potential to devastate access to reproductive health care on such a sweeping scale," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. "Once again, women across the state of Texas face the near total elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights."

But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed support for the Fifth Circuit's decision in his statement.

"HB 2 both protects the unborn and ensures Texas women are not subjected to unsafe and unhealthy conditions," Attorney General Paxton said. "Today’s decision by the Fifth Circuit validates that the people of Texas have authority to establish safe, common-sense standards of care necessary to ensure the health of women."

The plaintiffs have argued that the requirements are aimed at forcing abortion clinics to close, since the required upgrades are expensive and admitting privileges can be difficult to obtain.

The law’s supporters say it’s about improving safety and quality of care at abortion facilities.

Meanwhile, abortion providers plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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