WASHINGTON (CN) - Women's health groups on Tuesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block enforcement of Texas' tough new abortion law, just days after a 5th Circuit ruling closed all but eight abortion facilities in the state.
The Center for Reproductive Rights et al. filed an emergency stay asking Justice Antonin Scalia to block two provisions of the law: the ambulatory-surgical center provision and the admitting privileges requirement.
At least a dozen clinics closed last week weekend after the 5th Circuit found that the law does not create an undue burden on Texas women seeking abortions. The ruling allowed the state law to take effect immediately.
In its application to vacate the stay, the center says the three-judge 5th Circuit panel was wrong in ruling that the challenged regulations would not pose "a substantial obstacle to abortion access, despite eliminating abortion access from vast regions of Texas."
The center claims the 5th Circuit applied the wrong application of the undue burden standard, leaving just seven clinics in a state with 5.4 million women of reproductive age.
"If the stay entered by the 5th Circuit is not vacated, the clinics forced to remain closed during the appeals process will likely never reopen. Further, women's ability to exercise their constitutional right to obtain an abortion will be lost, and their lives will be permanently and profoundly altered," the center says in its application for stay.
The 5th Circuit had ruled that challengers to the law did not meet their burden to show that the provisions in question will result in insufficient clinic capacity.
The Circuit found that U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel did not have facts to support his Aug. 29 ruling that the two regulations in Texas House Bill 2 created "an undue burden" on women seeking an abortion.
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said women's constitutional rights and access to safe, legal abortion care have been dealt a devastating blow.
"We look now to the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately reinstate the injunction, allow the clinics to reopen, and put an end to the irreparable and unjustifiable harm to Texas women that is happening right now," Northup said in a statement.
The remaining abortion facilities in compliance with the law are in the four largest metropolitan areas of the state: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.
"There are no longer any licensed facilities providing abortions south or west of San Antonio, an area larger than most states. Vacating the stay entered by the 5th Circuit would allow more than a dozen clinics to resume providing services, including clinics in the southern and western parts of the state, from which women must now travel hundreds of miles to reach the closest Texas provider," the application to the Supreme Court says.
The state has until Thursday noon to respond to the petition.Follow @@eidelagarza
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