New Challenge Coming to Texas Abortion Law

     AUSTIN (CN) - The Center for Reproductive Rights plans to sue Texas over provisions in the state's tough abortion restrictions after a federal appeals court validated the law last week.
     The group announced Wednesday that it will again file a federal lawsuit against two provisions in House Bill 2, "a measure that has since closed several abortion clinics and created a devastating health care crisis for countless women."
     "First, it seeks an immediate court order blocking the law's requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals as it applies to Whole Woman's Health in McAllen and Reproductive Health Services in El Paso - two clinics that are among the last, if not the only, reproductive health care providers offering safe, legal abortion care in their communities," the group said in a statement. "Second, the lawsuit seeks to strike down HB2's provision that every reproductive health care facility offering abortion services meet the same building requirements as ambulatory surgical centers (ASCs). The requirement, which is set to take effect September 1, would force reproductive health clinics offering abortion care to either rebuild from the ground up and become essentially mini-hospitals or close entirely - leaving fewer than 10 clinics in a state with a female population of 13 million."
     The law would make abortion unavailable in Texas west or south of San Antonio, forcing women to travel "more than a thousand miles" roundtrip for a legal abortion.
     Whole Women's Health was unable to perform abortions since the admitting privileges requirement took effect in November 2013 and soon after it closed its doors.
     The Center for Reproductive Rights sued Texas over HB2 in September 2013 in Federal Court. The trial judge struck down the admitting privileges provision, concluding it has "no rational relationship to improved patient care" and does "not rationally relate to the state's legitimate interest in protecting the unborn."
     But on March 27, a three-judge panel with the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit reversed , reinstating the provision.
     Writing for the appeals panel, Judge Edith H. Jones agreed with Texas that the admitting privileges requirement would reduce delays in treating abortion patients with critical complications.
     "Requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges would also promote the continuity of care in all cases, reducing the risk of injury caused by miscommunication and misdiagnosis when a patient is transferred from one health care provider to another," according to the 34-page opinion.
     "Applying the rational basis test correctly, we have to conclude that the state acted within its prerogative to regulate the medical profession by heeding these patient-centered concerns and requiring abortion practitioners to obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital."