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Rights group filing new challenge to Texas abortion law

[JURIST] The Center for Reproductive Rights [advocacy website] announced [press release] Wednesday that it will file a new lawsuit against Texas House Bill 2 [text], which requires physicians performing "surgical abortions" to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and also required certain compliance protocols relating to the administration of drugs inducing "medication abortions." The new lawsuit will have two parts: first, it will seek to block the admitting privileges requirement as it applies to two clinics that are the last abortion providers in their communities, and second, to strike down the provision that every abortion service provider meet the same building requirements as an ambulatory surgical center (ASC). The ASC provision would require almost all reproductive health centers offering abortion services to either rebuild entirely or close. Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said of House Bill 2: "It is an affront to women's dignity, endangering their health, well-being, and lives. It is an attack on the US Constitution, and the rights it guarantees all of us to make our own decisions about our families without interference from politicians, and it must be struck down." The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit [official website] upheld [JURIST report] these provisions last Thursday from a challenge launched by Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy websites].

The final outcome of the challenge to the Texas abortion law is a matter of great importance to both sides of reproductive rights issues [JURIST backgrounder], and to the practical prospects [JURIST op-ed] of the procedure's continued availability within the state. The Fifth Circuit began hearing oral arguments [JURIST report] in the case near the beginning of January, after the US Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] its order vacating the injunction on enforcement of the law that had been granted by the district court. The Fifth Circuit granted a motion staying the injunction in November, just days after the district court declared [JURIST reports] the law unconstitutional. The ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed their lawsuit challenging the law in September, shortly after the bill was passed [JURIST reports] in July and signed into law by Texas Governor Rick Perry.

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