Federal appeals court to review Texas abortion law as battle for reproductive rights rages on

The odds may be stacked against reproductive rights groups, but the stakes for Texas women couldn't be higher

Published January 6, 2014 2:33PM (EST)

  (Associated Press)
(Associated Press)

The battle against Texas' sweeping abortion restrictions continues Monday as a federal appeals court is set to review the law that shuttered or reduced services at a third of the clinics in the state, leaving women across Texas without access to abortion and other reproductive health services.

As the Associated Press reports, a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans is set to hear arguments from Planned Parenthood and other providers over a lower court ruling declaring provisions of the law -- one requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, the other restricting drugs used in medication abortions -- unconstitutional.

In October 2013, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the admitting-privileges requirement lacked any medical justification and granted an injunction, but the conservative 5th Circuit reversed Yaekel's ruling, putting the provision into effect. Planned Parenthood requested that the Supreme Court block the implementation of the law, but the high court refused.

As Irin Carmon at MSNBC reports, the 5th Circuit panel is composed of conservative, Republican-appointed judges who have shown a hostility to reproductive rights in the past:

Two of the judges who will hear the case today have already signaled their views by voting to let the law immediately go into effect. The third, Edith Jones, upheld Texas’s forced-ultrasound-before-abortion law, and who was the subject of a rare ethics inquiry following remarks she made suggesting African-Americans and Latinos are “predisposed to crime.”

The odds may be stacked against Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers in the state, but the stakes couldn't be higher for Texas women.

As a result of the law, 34 clinics have reduced or eliminated abortion services and 12 were forced to close outright. In this landscape of access, demographers have predicted that 22,000 women will be denied safe abortion services in 2014.

The case is expected to eventually land on the Supreme Court's docket.

More to come as this story develops.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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