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Federal Court Upholds Stringent Abortion Restrictions In Texas

The New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals ruled on Thursday that Texas could require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

That provision was part of a set of stringent abortion regulations passed in Texas in 2013. As NPR's Julie Rovner reported at the time, Texas was one of about a dozen states to ban most abortions after 20 weeks.

A lower court ruled the admitting privileges part of the law placed an unconstitutional burden on women's access to abortion. Texas appealed and that brings us to now.

The AP reports: "In its opinion, the appeals court said the law 'on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman.'"

As NPR's Wade Goodwyn explains, while the court acknowledged that the restriction has forced 16 clinics to close and has therefore forced women in some parts of Texas to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion, those women, the court said, do not constitute a majority.

Texas Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott said on Twitter:

"We just won the HB2 case at 5th Circuit. Decision by unanimous female panel. More later. #txlege"

This lawsuit did not deal with the 20-week provision in the law.

Update at 6:42 p.m. ET. 'Good News For Texas Women':

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement:

"The people of Texas have spoken through their elected leaders and in support of protecting the culture of life in our state. Today's court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women's health in Texas."

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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