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Appeals Court Gives Texas OK To Enforce Abortion Law

Posted: October 31, 2013

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A panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals says the state can go ahead with implementing the new restrictions, which require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.

A federal appeals court has granted a Texas request to reinstate restrictions on abortion providers after a lower court blocked the state from fully implementing the new law.

The stay follows a ruling by District Judge Lee Yeakel on Monday — a day before the law was to have gone into effect. It requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinics they practice in.

Yeakel said the provision was unconstitutional and presented an undue burden on women seeking abortions.

But Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quickly appealed for a stay to allow the law to go forward. On Thursday, a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted his request.

The appeals court said Yeakel's ruling focused on emergency room treatment of women experiencing complications following an abortion, which it said "overlooks substantial interests of the State in regulating the medical profession and the State's interest in 'protecting the integrity and ethics of the medical profession.' "

The Associated Press says:

"In its 20-page ruling, the appeals court panel acknowledged that the provision 'may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions.' However, the panel said that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that having 'the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate' a law that serves a valid purpose, 'one not designed to strike at the right itself.'

"The panel left in place a portion of Yeakel's order that prevents the state from enforcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol for abortion-inducing drugs in cases where the woman is between 50 and 63 days into her pregnancy. Doctors testifying before the court had said such women would be harmed if the protocol were enforced."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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