November 1, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At least nine Texas abortion clinics have suspended abortions starting today after an Appeals Court reinstated key provisions of the state’s hotly contested pro-life law yesterday, according to reports.
The ruling came just three days after U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel had struck down sections of the law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and to follow FDA guidelines in administering the abortion drug RU-486.
Shortly after yesterday's ruling Whole Women’s Health, an abortion chain that includes five facilities, tweeted that, due to an inability to meet the admitting privileges requirement, they would have to shut down three of their five clinics starting today. That includes their clinics in Fort Worth, San Antonio, and McAllen.
@DeniseFlores Fort Worth, San Antonio, and McAllen. Austin and Beaumont will remain open.— Whole Woman's Health (@WholeWomans) November 1, 2013
“It is a sad and dark day for women in Texas,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder and chief executive officer of Whole Woman’s Health, in a statement. “Women who need our care will not have nowhere to turn and the staff and physicians in our clinics now face furlough and likely unemployment.”
Whole Women’s Health is the same chain of abortion facilities that has been cited dozens of times over the past three years for health and safety violations, including unsterilized abortion instruments, unqualified staff, rusty suction machines, and expired and unlabeled medications.
More inspections as recent as the beginning of this month have uncovered even more safety violations at three of their facilities, despite provisions in the new law enforcing higher safety standards.
Pro-life activist Mark Crutcher of Life Dynamics pointed out that one of the two clinics that Whole Women is keeping open is their Beaumont facility – one of the facilities that was cited in the most recent round of inspections.
“On the surface, this seems odd,” said Crutcher. “After all, if these people are operating a facility that can’t meet the old lower standards, how are they going to comply with the new higher ones?”
Crutcher suggested that Whole Women’s Health might “know something that we don’t.” “Maybe what they know is that the facilities they are closing are even filthier than the one in Beaumont.”
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Meanwhile, the left-leaning Texas Tribune reports that they have confirmed that at least nine of the state’s facilities, including four Planned Parenthood clinics, have shut down abortion operations – or about a quarter of the state’s clinics. According to some reports, the law could force as many as 12 to shut down their abortion operations.
The ruling is “having an immediate impact starting today, and what that impact is depends on each woman and where she lives,” Sarah Wheat, vice president for community affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told the Tribune.
“Depending on that patient and what her circumstances are, we’re either referring her to another health center in that same community or telling her which cities she’ll have to travel to,” Wheat said.
The Planned Parenthood clinics that have ceased abortions, located in Fort Worth, Austin, Waco, and Lubbock, will continue to offer other services, such as birth control, she said. Two other Reproductive Services clinics in Harlingen and El Paso have also suspended abortion operations.
In his ruling on Monday Judge Yeakel had written that tightening the quality of care “places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”
However, in a unanimous 20-page decision, a panel of the Appeals Court acknowledged that the law "may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions," but added that "the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion” does not invalidate the law.
Other provisions of the law, such as a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, and higher safety standards, were never challenged.
The law will go into effect immediately, pending a full court hearing anticipated in January.