Abortion providers say many clinics will have to close in Texas

Nov. 2, 2013 at 1:51 AM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- The day after a U.S. appeals court allowed Texas to enforce new restrictions on abortion providers said they were already seeing the effects.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, chief executive of Whole Women's Health, told The New York Times that three of its six clinics would almost certainly close.

"Patients are walking through the door, they are crying -- they are freaking out," she said. "We can't stay open without any sources of income."

The law requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where they do procedures. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled Monday that provision is unconstitutional, only to be reversed late Thursday by a three-judge appeals panel in New Orleans.

Like Yeakel, the appellate judges, Priscilla R. Owen, Jennifer Walker Elrod and Catharina Haynes, were appointed by President George W. Bush. They found the state is likely to prevail in the legal fight and that Planned Parenthood and other groups challenging the law had not shown its requirements place an "undue burden" on women who want abortions.

Eric Ferrero, a Planned Parenthood spokesman, said the group would have to stop providing abortions at clinics in Austin, Fort Worth, Lubbock and Waco. The clinics will remain open for other health services such as birth control and screening.

Supporters of the law say it protects women. Gov. Rick Perry said the appellate court decision "affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas."

But Dr. Lester Minto, who owns Reproductive Services in Harlingen, described the patients he saw Friday as "desperate and scared." He said some told him they were prepared to go to Houston, a 300-mile trip, or to Mexico.

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