All but eight of the remaining 21 abortion clinics in Texas were forced to shut down overnight after a federal appeals court upheld the state's tough restrictions on abortion. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the law's requirement for abortions to take place in expensive ambulatory surgical centers did not impose an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions, even though the only such centers are in major cities, reports NBC. Lawyers for abortion providers argued that the law would leave some 750,000 reproductive-age women, mostly near the Mexico border, more than 200 miles away from the nearest abortion clinic, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
"Today's ruling has gutted Texas women's constitutional rights and access to critical reproductive health care and stands to make safe, legal abortion essentially disappear overnight," says the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, whose lawyers represented the abortion providers. A spokesman for state Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor, called the decision a "vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women," reports the New York Times, which notes that Texas had 41 abortion clinics before parts of the law came into effect last summer. Wendy Davis, Abbott's Democratic opponent, issued a statement saying, "Women should be able to make these deeply personal decisions without the intrusion of politicians like Greg Abbott, who supports making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest." (In her new memoir, Davis reveals that she had aborted a child in the second trimester after doctors discovered a severe brain abnormality.)