After the federal appellate court sided with Texas in the years-long battle over the abortion law, thirteen abortion clinics all over the state will be forced to shut down. The court allowed Texas to enforce one of the most difficult provisions of the law.
A three-judge panel was responsible for the decision-making process. According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, New Orleans, any abortion clinic in the state must meet strict building, equipment and staffing standards as hospital surgical centers. Abortion providers argued that such standards were both unnecessary and costly but the state was firm in its position: patient safety must not be jeopardized.
After these new standards have been established, thirteen clinics not meeting the criteria will have to close overnight. As a result, Texas, home to 5.4 million women at a reproductive age, will have to make do with the eight abortion providers that do meet the criteria, located in Huston, Austin and two other metropolitan regions.
Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, was outraged by the ruling. According to her:
The “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.”
Northup’s lawyers were part of the legal team that had represented the clinics which chose to sue the state.
Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for Greg Abbott, Texas Attorney General, praised the ruling and claimed that Abbott and his team of lawyers were pleased with how things turned out.
“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,”
Texas Republicans as well as anti-abortion groups who supported the law applauded the decision, saying that it had countered several court rulings which practically eliminated other abortion restrictions in the South.
All three judges believed that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove that women facing abortions would be facing a unconstitutional burden because of the clinic closings. They argued that, according to Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the plaintiff’s experts, one out of six women in Texas would live more than 150 miles from a clinic that was equipped to perform such procedures.
Abortion providers stated that their lawyers would be pursuing all legal options and that they couldn’t exclude a possible appeal to the Supreme Court or to the Fifth Circuit.