Texas abortion law challenged in Planned Parenthood lawsuit

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From Joe Sutton


(CNN) — A federal lawsuit filed Friday seeks to overturn portions of Texas’ new abortion law, considered among the most restrictive legislation in the nation, just weeks before it takes effect.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Austin by Planned Parenthood on behalf of more than a dozen women’s health care providers across Texas alleges the law violates the constitutional rights of women and puts unreasonable demands on doctors who perform abortions.

The law bans abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandates abortion clinics upgrade facilities to become ambulatory surgical centers, tightens usage guidelines for the drug RU486, and requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic at which they’re providing abortion services.

The lawsuit specifically targets requirements under the new law that doctors obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital, usage controls on RU486 — the so-called morning after pill — and mandates that clinics upgrade to surgical centers.

The new law “would be catastrophic, making essential reproductive health care services for many Texans, especially poor and rural women, practically impossible to access, said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Gov. Rick Perry’s spokesman said the lawsuit was not a surprise.

“It’s not surprising that those in the abortion business would oppose these common sense measures to protect women’s health and the lives of children,” said Josh Havens, the governor’s spokesman.

“Every abortion clinic in Texas can choose to meet these standards and continue operation. Those that don’t are clearly putting profits before patients.”

The 20-week ban takes effect on October 29, while enforcement for the rest of the bill begins in September 2014.

The bill originally failed to gain approval because of a Democratic filibuster led by state Sen. Wendy Davis. Perry then called the legislature into a second special session to continue consideration of the bill.

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