Ruling halts abortions in one third of clinics in Texas

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A third of the abortion clinics in Texas can no longer perform the procedure starting Friday after a federal appeals court allowed most of the state’s new abortion restrictions to take effect.

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.

Kyleen Wright, president of the Texas for Life Coalition, told CBS Radio News that the ruling is a victory for women’s health.

“Women are entitled to competent doctors,” Wright said.

At Reproduction Services of Harlingen, Dr. Lester Minto told CBS Radio News that no abortion procedures were being performed at his clinic Friday but women were being signed up in anticipation of a change during the day.

“I told this young lady that she could still get it done; she’d have to travel to San Antonio, and the costs will be significantly higher,” said Minto. “Most of the girls we see are lower socio-economic status, so it’s going to cause a lot of desperation.”

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.

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