Federal Appeals Court Hears Texas Abortion Law

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday over the controversial Texas abortion law.

The law, which was allowed to be enacted in October by the Fifth Circuit, requires doctors to have local hospital admitting privileges to conduct abortions. State Sen. Wendy Davis rocketed to political fame opposing the law last year in a filibuster in the state legislature, but the law, House Bill 2, was quickly passed when Gov. Rick Perry called another special session.

Since then the fight over the law has been duked out in court. A lawsuit was filed in September 2013 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of more than a dozen women's health care providers.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled against a portion of the law in October but the Fifth Circuit allowed the law to be enacted while the decision went through an expedited appeal process (per the request of State Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott.) Since then, one-third of the state's abortion clinics have been forced to close.

"This law is one of the worst in a disturbing trend of politicians nationwide trying to prevent women from accessing safe and legal abortion," Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project said in a statement issued Monday.

Other similar laws have been blocked in Alabama, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Mississippi, but laws restricting abortions have gained a lot of traction in the past few years.The Texas law is one of many that have altered the abortion access landscape in the U.S., according to the New York Times. In 2013, 22 states enacted more than 70 abortion restrictions, according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute.

The Fifth Circuit heard arguments on Monday morning, but its decision most likely won't be the final word, according to the Times. The Texas case will likely end up before the Supreme Court before this is all over.

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