A federal appeals court today upheld Texas' tough abortion restrictions that have forced the closure of nearly 20 clinics around the state, saying the new rules don't jeopardize women's health. A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the US Constitution and served no medical purpose. Despite the lower court's ruling, the appeals court already had allowed some rules to go into effect while it considered the case. The latest decision means more regulations will begin later this year, as scheduled, and sets the case up for a likely appeal to the US Supreme Court.
In its opinion, the appeals court said the law "on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman." Planned Parenthood, which sued to block the law, called the ruling "terrible" and said that "safe and legal abortion will continue to be virtually impossible for thousands of Texas women to access." To recap, Texas lawmakers last summer passed some of the toughest restrictions in the US on when, where and how women may obtain an abortion. The Republican-controlled Legislature required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and placed strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills. Click for more on the story, or see why a judge struck down the bill.