Appeals Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions in Texas

Abortion texas
Abortion rights activists protest outside of a U.S. federal court in Austin, Texas, on August 4, 2014. Jon Herskovit/Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld most provisions of a controversial law that allows abortion restrictions in Texas and could leave as few as eight clinics in the state, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Three judges with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the Lone Star State can require clinics that perform the procedure to meet the same standard as hospitals, including a minimum size for rooms and entryways. Only a handful of Texas abortion clinics, which are all located in major metropolitan areas, meet the requirements.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization that works to promote and defend women's reproductive rights worldwide, brought the lawsuit against the state on behalf of Texas abortion providers.

A provision of the 2013 Texas law requires doctors who conduct abortions to hold admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of a clinic. The judges on Tuesday ruled in favor of physicians at one clinic, Whole Woman's Health in McAllen, by granting an exemption from the requirement. The same request by Reproductive Services in El Paso was rejected.

Abortion providers are expected to continue with their demands by asking the full 15-member court to hear the case, according to The Texas Tribune.

Since 2010, there has been a 12 percent decline in the U.S. abortion rate, most notably in Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Rhode Island and Connecticut, according to a new survey. None of those states have recently passed laws restricting patients' access to abortion clinics or physicians who provide the services.

Louisiana, however, was a leader among the states with rising abortion rates. There, state lawmakers have passed laws limiting women's access to abortion.

Women seeking abortions in neighboring states like Texas have been forced to find clinics elsewhere because of restrictions.