A third of Texas abortion clinics to close on court ruling

At least a third of the abortion clinics in Texas were expected to cease providing abortions Friday after an appeals court lifted an injunction blocking controversial new rules.

All but five of the sprawling state's 42 clinics could be forced out of business if a second set of restrictions is goes forward next year.

Abortion is a hot-button issue in US politics. In recent years, opponents have imposed restrictions aimed at deterring women from ending pregnancies and making it harder for clinics to operate.

A Texas law requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital was overturned by a federal judge on Monday, only for the injunction halting the closures to be lifted by another court on Thursday.

Judge Lee Yeakel had ruled that the requirement ?does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the State in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.?

Similar restrictions imposed in Alabama, Mississippi and Wisconsin have been overturned by federal courts.

Many hospitals ban physicians from performing abortions and will not grant providers admission privileges because their low-risk practices do not result in a high enough volume of admissions, Yeakel noted in a 26-page opinion.

A federal appeals court disagreed and lifted the injunction late Thursday after determining that the state of Texas ?has made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed" in its appeal.

It noted that while the Supreme Court has ruled that states may not place ?undue burdens? on women seeking to terminate pregnancies, a law need not be invalidated simply because it ?has the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion.?

It also ruled that even if more 90 percent of the state's women did not live within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of an abortion clinic ?this does not constitute an undue burden.?

Texas Governor Rick Perry hailed the ruling as an affirmation of ?our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas.?

?We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state,? he said in a statement.

But opponents vowed to challenge the ruling and work to overturn other portions of the bill, which also bans all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, limits the use of the abortion pill RU486 and imposes expensive new building codes on clinics.

?This fight is far from over,? Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which operates a number of clinics in Texas.

?If Texans showed America one thing during the historic protests against this law this summer, we demonstrated that Texans value women's health ? and that is why we will take every step we can to protect the health of Texas women in the wake of this ruling.?

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