Pro-choice advocates lose US Circuit Court appeal

An appeal against a 2013 law that pro-choice advocates claim is unconstitutional and designed to restrict abortion in Texas has been struck down by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The New Orleans-based court upheld most provisions in the law that pro-life groups say sets standards for abortion clinics to ensure women's health is protected.

“Texas has struck a decisive blow for women's health and safety against a predatory abortion industry," said Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life. Criticising the abortion industry as “under-monitored, under-supervised, and secretive” she said women should “no longer be abandoned to self-serving and false assurances from an industry that puts profits over people."

The law’s provisions include requirements that abortion clinics meet the same health and safety standards as facilities providing other outpatient surgeries and maintain hospital admitting privileges so women who experience post-abortion complications can receive emergency care. It also prohibits abortions after 20 weeks and says abortion pills can only be dispensed by a doctor, and requires the second day’s dosage of RU-486 to be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

Since 2012, 23 of Texas’ 40 abortion clinics have closed, and opponents of the law say the ruling will force further closures. 

The decision has coincided with an Associated Press survey establishing that abortion has dropped by 12% across the US since 2010, with sizeable declines being noted even in states such as New York, Washington, and Oregon, all of which maintain unrestricted abortion access.

The ruling is expected to be appealed.