An appellate court ruling today means that women in rural Texas may have a long drive on their hands if they plan to get an abortion. The 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state's new rules, which essentially require clinics to have hospital-level building codes, reports the Dallas Morning News. (Think room and doorway sizes, air-sterilization systems, etc.) Prior to today's ruling, the state had 17 abortion clinics—down from 40 in 2013—but only seven of them currently meet the requirements. An eighth, in McAllen near the Mexican border, was granted limited exemptions.
Barring a move by the Supreme Court, the state can begin enforcing the new rules in about three weeks, reports AP. Except for McAllen, those that would remain open are in major cities. A woman in El Paso would have to make a 1,300-mile round trip to San Antonio or cross the border into Mexico, and the AP notes the court found the latter option OK. "Although the nearest abortion facility in Texas is 550 miles away from El Paso, there is evidence that women in El Paso can travel the short distance to Santa Teresa (in Mexico) to obtain an abortion and, indeed, the evidence is that many did just that," the court wrote. (Read more Texas stories.)