The Fifth Circuit court of appeals heard oral arguments for and against Texas's new restrictive abortion laws on Monday. Given the court's pretty consistent record against reproductive rights, the day went more or less as one might expect: the Fifth Circuit, which overturned a lower court's decision to halt the law from going into effect as it's appealed, seems likely to side with the state over the constitutionality of the controversial measure.
The lawsuit in question challenges just a portion of the law's provisions: a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges as a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, and another measure restricting drug-induced abortions. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with plaintiffs in October, writing that the admitting privileges restriction was "without a rational basis, and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a non-viable fetus."Texas argues that the new laws protect women's safety.
Arguably the most dramatic effect of the admitting privileges requirement is visible in the Rio Grande valley, as Lindsay Beyerstein reported on earlier on Monday. The only two clinics in the region closed because of the requirement, meaning women there must travel hundreds of miles in order to access a clinic in San Antonio. This, the plaintiffs argue, creates an undue burden on women seeking an abortion in that region.