Advocates want US Supreme Court to block Texas law

People protest in front of the Whole Women's Health clinic Saturday, Oct/ 4, 2014 in McAllen, Texas.
People protest in front of the Whole Women's Health clinic . Oct/ 4, 2014 in McAllen, Texas. (AP Photo/The Monitor, Joel Martinez)

AUSTIN (AP) — Abortion providers on Monday asked the Supreme Court to block a lower federal court ruling that allowed Texas to enforce tough restrictions effectively closing all but seven abortion facilities in America’s second most-populous state.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, representing Texas physicians and women’s health care providers, filed a 50-plus page emergency application with the high court Monday. It argued that “no credible evidence suggests that the challenged requirements would enhance the safety of abortion procedures.”

The center is seeking to reinstate — until all appeals are exhausted — an injunction imposed earlier by a lower court judge against the sweeping law overwhelmingly approved by the GOP-controlled state Legislature in 2013.

In August, Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel blocked a provision of the law requiring clinics to pay for hospital-level upgrades. He ruled that those rules were less about safety than making access to abortion difficult.

But last week, a U.S. 5th Circuit Court panel in New Orleans stayed Yeakel’s ruling.

In a statement Monday, the Center for Reproductive Rights said the 5th Circuit ruling “has nearly 1 million Texas women facing a minimum of a 300 mile roundtrip to access their constitutional right to an abortion.”

“There can be no question that just a handful of clinics left to offer safe, legal abortion care to all women across the vast state of Texas is a dire emergency in need of an immediate response,” said Nancy Northup, the group’s president and CEO.

Texas had more than 40 abortion facilities as recently as two years ago. But many clinics have already closed under a part of the law requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges, and last week’s decision would shutter more than a dozen more.

The impact stands to be felt most along the Texas-Mexico border and in the western half of the state, where access to a legal abortion is especially limited. The only abortion clinic in McAllen, which reopened after the lower court’s ruling, is expected to close again. That leaves women in the Rio Grande Valley facing a 300-mile drive to the next-nearest abortion facility.

Under the entire scope of the law, only seven abortion facilities in Texas meet the requirements. All those facilities are concentrated around the major cities of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth.

Attorneys for Texas have denied that women would be burdened by fewer abortion facilities, saying nearly 9 in 10 women statewide would still live within 150 miles of a provider.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

KXAN.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s