US appeals court upholds new Texas abortion rules

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A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld Texas' tough abortion restrictions that have forced the closure of about 20 clinics around the state, saying the new rules don't jeopardize women's health.

A panel of judges at the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court judge who said the rules violate the U.S. Constitution and serve no medical purpose. After the lower court's ruling, the appeals court allowed the restrictions to go into effect while it considered the case, which ultimately could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and places strict limits on doctors prescribing abortion-inducing pills. More regulations that are scheduled to begin later this year weren't a part of the case.

In its opinion, the appeals court said the law "on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman."

Planned Parenthood, which sued to block the restrictions, called the ruling "terrible" and said that "safe and legal abortion will continue to be virtually impossible for thousands of Texas women to access."

"The latest restrictions in Texas will force women to have abortions later in pregnancy, if they are able to get to a doctor at all," Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Votes, said in a statement.

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