NEW ORLEANS (Christian Examiner) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit has ruled a controversial law in Texas requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at area hospitals and abortion clinics to meet the standards of "ambulatory surgical centers" does not place an "undue burden" on women seeking an abortion.
Opponents of the law argued that it placed severe restrictions on women's access to reproductive health care and could force most abortion clinics in the state to close.
But the court – in a 56-page ruling – said women who had to travel to obtain an abortion experienced no violation of the provisions upheld in the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
Controversy over House Bill 2, passed during the 2013 legislative session, catapulted Democrat State Sen. Wendy Davis to national fame among pro-abortion advocates.
Davis conducted an hours-long filibuster of the bill, with pro-abortion protestors repeatedly cheering her on and heckling senators from the gallery.
The bill later passed, and Davis sought to capitalize on her new-found fame by running for governor. She was soundly defeated by then Attorney General Greg Abbott.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg criticized the Texas law in 2014, claiming lawmakers couldn't be trusted to uphold women's rights to reproductive health care.
"How could you trust legislatures in view of the restrictions states are imposing?" Justice Ginsburg told New Republic magazine. "Think of the Texas legislation that would put most clinics out of business. The courts can't be trusted either."
The court's decision angered pro-abortion advocates. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that court's decision had "the potential to devastate access to reproductive health care on such a sweeping scale."
"Once again, women across the state of Texas face elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights," Northup said.
"The Supreme Court's prior rulings do not allow for this kind of broadside legislative assault on women's rights and health care. We now look to the Justices to stop the sham laws that are shutting clinics down and placing countless women at risk of serious harm."
Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder, president and CEO of Whole Woman's Health said the ruling was "devastating" for Texas women.
"Ending a pregnancy could mean traveling hundreds of miles and overcoming needless hurdles such as additional costs, childcare, time off, and immigration checkpoints. This is simply unacceptable. Whole Woman's Health will fight this fight and take our case all the way to the Supreme Court in order to get justice for all Texans," Miller said.
The ruling was praised by pro-life advocates.
"Texas has struck a decisive blow for women's health and safety against a predatory abortion industry," Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life, said. "A largely under-monitored, under-supervised, and secretive abortion industry tells women 'trust but don't verify that our clinics are clean and safe.' No longer should women be abandoned to self-serving and false assurances from an industry that puts profits over people."
"There is no right to an unsafe abortion and for abortion advocates to promote a lower standard of care for women just to ensure the sacred cow of abortion remains intact is morally indefensible," Hawkins said.