The Fifth Circuit has upheld Texas's abortion clinic regulation regime, legislation that has already closed most of the clinics in the state and now will leave at least a million women a hundred miles away or more from any abortion services.
Federal judges upheld a sweeping anti-abortion law on Tuesday in a decision that will shutter most abortion clinics in Texas.
The ruling held that the law, HB 2, which requires abortion facilities to comply with hospital-like standards, does not pose an undue burden for the majority of women seeking abortion in Texas, millions of whom will now have to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion.
The law calls for clinics to follow the state's rules for ambulatory surgical centers, facilities that are very costly to operate. In 2013, Planned Parenthood opened a brand-new ASC in Forth Worth at a cost of $6.5 million. Only seven abortion clinics in Texas comply with ASC standards; 13 other clinics face imminent closure.
Whole Woman's Health, the plaintiff in the case, vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court and to ask the justices to put the ruling on hold immediately. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the clinics will be forced to close in 22 days. The case, if it goes before the high court, could result in a definitive ruling on when an abortion restriction is too restrictive and constitutes an "undue burden."
"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 Northrup, the CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Whole Woman's Health in the lawsuit.
The ruling is a broad victory for Texas on what most consider the most restrictive abortion law in the country: Other provisions of HB 2, which were not a part of Tuesday's ruling, have already closed more than 20 abortion providers across the state. Judges were drawn from the most conservative appeals court in the country, US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
A few years ago Teas had more than 40 clinics. Now that number will be reduced to seven. This is what happens when "small government Republicans" decide that government can indeed be used to regulate clinics out of business and trap women in pregnancies, all while screaming about "liberal fascism" and "regulatory burdens".
Expect more Republican states to take up Texas-style clinic regulations, designed specifically to put clinics out of business and to take choices away from women.