Constitutional Law

Texas law requiring abortion clinics to upgrade facilities is struck down; state seeks stay

A federal judge has struck down a Texas law that requires abortion clinics to comply with standards for ambulatory surgical centers. The state is seeking a stay of the ruling.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel overturned parts of the law on Friday, report the National Law Journal, SCOTUSblog and the Houston Chronicle. Yeakel said only seven or eight abortion clinics in Texas could meet the standards required by the law.

“For a significant number of women in Texas,” the decision (PDF) said, the law would operate “just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion.”

Ruling in an as-applied challenge, Yeakel said the surgical center requirement, combined with a provision requiring doctors to have admission privileges at nearby hospitals, operate together to impose a substantial burden on the right to abortion. He barred enforcement of both provisions, saying they were part of a “brutally effective” system reducing access to abortion clinics.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has asked the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Yeakel’s ruling. The state argued Yeakel’s ruling conflicts with a prior decision by the 5th Circuit in a facial challenge to the law.

According to SCOTUSblog, “the issue may not stop at the appeals court level.” The case is Whole Women’s Health v. Lakey.

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