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A Promised Fight as Texas Tramples Rights of Women

Court reinstates abortion restrictions that will forbid one-third of state's clinics from offering specific services

- Jon Queally, staff writer

In this July 15, 2013 file photo, two signs that read "Who Lobbied For This?" and "We Need Healthcare Options, Not Obstacles" are held by attendees of a rally in front of Dallas city hall where a group of nearly 200 gathered to protest the approval of sweeping new restrictions on abortion in Texas. A U.S. appeals court on Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, issued a ruling reinstating most of Texas' tough new abortion restrictions, which means as many as 12 clinics will not be able to perform the procedure starting as soon as Friday. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)Striking a blow to the rights and wellbeing of women across Texas, a federal appeals court has ruled to reinstate a restrictive anti-choice law that will shutter at least one-third of all abortion providers across the state.

As the Associated Press reports:

A panel of judges at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Thursday evening that Texas can enforce its law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward. The panel issued the ruling three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel determined that the provision violated the U.S. Constitution and said it serves no medical purpose.

The panel's ruling is not final, and a different panel of judges will likely hear the case in January. But in the meantime, Texas clinics will have to follow the order. Twelve of the 32 clinics in Texas that perform abortions don't have doctors who have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, meaning they won't be able to perform the procedure, though they can provide other services.

"The decision is a disappointing failure to protect the constitutional rights of women in Texas, who now face a health crisis of catastrophic proportions," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

"Years of legislative attacks on women's health and rights," she added, "now pose an imminent threat to send countless women back to the dark days before Roe v. Wade."

Northrup, however, was not alone in vowing to continue the legal battle.

"This fight is far from over," Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said in a statement. "This restriction clearly violates Texas women's constitutional rights by drastically reducing access to safe and legal abortion statewide."

And Northrup said her group was "committed to standing with Texas health care providers, Texas women, and our partners in taking every necessary step to end this emergency and restore the essential health care that has been unconstitutionally stripped away."

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