Texas abortion clinics may close as court allows new restrictions
Thirteen Texas abortion clinics serving large parts of the state could close their doors this week following a decision by a federal appellate court Thursday
allowing a state law to take effect requiring the clinics to implement costly hospital-level upgrades to their facilities.
Abortion facilities would be forced to spend millions on upgrades to comply with the law. Before the law was passed last year, there were more than 40 clinics offering abortion services. Now only eight meet the new requirements. Those are concentrated around Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth, leaving large swaths of the state unserved by abortion providers.
A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there was insufficient evidence that a “large fraction” of women seeking abortions would face an unconstitutional burden because of the new facilities’ requirements and clinic closings.
That decision means that 900,000 women of reproductive age live at least 150 miles from an abortion clinic, said Heather Busby, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “As of today, clinics are likely canceling appointments and not doing abortions,” she said. “Abortion assistance funds are raising all the money they can to help, but that will still only help a fraction of the women who need it.”
She wasn’t sure exactly when the centers that don’t meet the new facility standards would close because the legal fight isn’t over yet. Advocates could appeal to the full 5th Circuit Court to hear the case en banc. If denied, they could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, said John Robertson, a University of Texas law professor.