The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] heard arguments Monday regarding the constitutionality of Texas' new abortion law [HB 2], the provisions of which would lead to the closing of many of the state's abortion clinics. Pro-choice groups contend that the district court correctly ruled [JURIST report] that the provisions of the law restricting the use of abortifacients and requiring abortion-proving physicians to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital place an unconstitutional burden on women's access to abortion. However, the state argues [AP report] that the provisions are necessary to advance the state's "interest in protecting fetal life," and for the welfare of women seeking abortions.
Texas has been at the center of the ongoing controversy over reproductive rights [JURIST backgrounder]. In November, the US Supreme Court ruled to allow Texas's abortion law to remain in effect [JURIST report] while the Fifth Circuit evaluates the trial court's ruling. Earlier that month, abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood [advocacy website] filed an emergency request asking the Supreme Court to reinstate a previous injunction [JURIST reports] blocking HB 2. In its brief,Texas defended the admitting privileges requirement, saying that it would promote women's health by "fostering a woman's ability to seek consultation and treatment for complications directly from her physician."