Court allows Texas to enforce closing of abortion centers

Abortion clinics throughout Texas were forced to close Friday (Oct. 3) due to non-compliance with a Texas law enacted last year regulating the abortion industry.

A federal appeals court ruled Oct. 2, that Texas can immediately start enforcing new protections for women and unborn children, overturning another judge’s ruling that blocked the regulations days before they were set to take effect.

The rules are part of the sweeping abortion reform law called HB2 that Gov. Rick Perry signed in 2013. They require abortion centers in Texas to have hospital-like facilities with operating rooms, air filtration systems, and other standards that are typically mandated in surgical settings.

Supporters of the measure said it would protect women’s health, but U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Aug. 29—three days the regulations were supposed to be implemented—that it created an “impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion.”

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans today stayed Yeakel’s ruling while it considers the overall constitutionality of the law. HB2 has already withstood a legal challenge to another part of the law that required abortionists to have privileges at a nearby hospital. The 5th Circuit ruled in March that the privileges requirement did not place an undue burden on women seeking abortions. That requirement led to about 20 abortion providers closing their doors.

The facilities requirements forced the closure of 13 abortion centers in Texas. Only seven abortion facilities will remain open in the state, all in the Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas-Fort Worth areas.

— by Lynde Langdon

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