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Texas abortion clinic to reopen after court ruling

•  National News     updated  2014/09/04 16:42


Women in South Texas facing a 200-mile drive for access to legal abortions learned Wednesday that a local clinic shuttered by a sweeping anti-abortion law would reopen, marking the first tangible effect of a court ruling last week that blocked key parts of the state law.

Whole Woman's Health clinic in McAllen, a city near the Mexico border, closed in March after its doctors said they couldn't obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals as the state now requires. But a federal judge ruled Friday that the law created unconstitutional barriers to abortions in South Texas, and the clinic is now set to reopen later this week, chief executive Amy Hagstrom Miller said.

Questions are now also being raised about whether the ruling had other broader ramifications than first thought.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel made two key rulings in Friday's 21-page decision. He struck down a mandate that required all abortion clinics in Texas to adopt costly hospital-level operating standards and exempted clinics in McAllen and El Paso from an already upheld requirement that doctors who perform abortions obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

A four-day trial last month narrowly focused on the El Paso and McAllen areas because clinics there serve regions where access to abortions would otherwise be particularly difficult. But language Yeakel included in a separate final judgment has left some questioning whether his order — inadvertently or not — banned the admitting-privileges law at all Texas abortion clinics.

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