A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld the strict abortion restrictions in Texas, a move that could cause all but seven abortion clinics to shut down.
The decision made by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will give clearance to the restrictions backed by the Republican party that require abortion clinics to meet certain hospital-level standards – including rules on minimum room sizes, staffing levels and air ventilation systems, according to Fox News.
The upgrades required to meet the standards, which will cost millions of dollars, will force owners of numerous abortion clinics to shut down their offices.
Nancy Northrop, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, “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. We now look to the Justices to stop the sham laws that are shutting clinics down and placing countless women at risk of serious harm.”
The restrictions, first approved and cleared in Texas Legislature two years ago, were part of a bill that put limitations on when abortions could be conducted. As part of this bill, all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy were banned, other than where there were cases of rape or incest with a minor. The measure also required administration of abortion inducing drugs by a doctor.
Furthermore, the doctors performing abortions were to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, and that those clinics needed to have the same equipment as those in ambulatory surgery centers.
If the requirements are put into effect, about 900,000 women will be more than 150 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic, according to The New York Times.
The percentage of women who would have to travel 150 miles only constitute 17 percent, which the Fifth Court panel said was not a “large fraction.”
People opposing abortions were delighted with the decision. Texas Attorney General and Republican Ken Paxton, who defended the bill when he was a member of the state House of Representatives, was of the opinion that the move would prevent women from receiving treatment from substandard abortion facilities.
In a statement, he said, “Abortion practitioners should have no right to operate their businesses from substandard facilities and with doctors who lack admitting privileges at a hospital. This ruling will help protect the health and well-being of Texas women.”
On the other hand, abortion rights advocates said that upholding the restrictions is not essential as abortion is medically induced rather than surgical.
According to Los Angeles Times, Northrop said, “Once again, women across the state of Texas face elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court’s prior rulings do not allow for this kind of broadside legislative assault on women’s rights and healthcare. We now look to the justices to stop the sham laws that are shutting clinics down and placing countless women at risk of serious harm.”
You might also be interested in: The Martian Trailer: Damon Stranded On Mars, Fights To Survive On The Red Planet