US & Canada

Court cuts Texas abortion access

'Come and take it' reads a pro-choice protestor's sign Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A Texas protestor displays a phrase normally used by the US pro-gun lobby.

Most of the abortion clinics in Texas will be closed, following a federal court ruling that upholds an anti-abortion law in the second largest state in the US.

The law requires clinics to operate more like hospitals, which proponents say will make women more safe.

Critics complain that the law will unfairly limit access to abortion.

It means only seven abortion clinics will stay open, forcing some people to travel long distances for abortions.

Texas currently has only 17 abortion providers - down from 40 in 2012 when Texas congressmen passed a law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Pro-choice protesters marched in the Texas state capitol in 2013

Tuesday's ruling means that Texas abortion clinics are now required to maintain hospital level equipment and operating procedures, which critics say is costly and unnecessary.

"Not since before Roe v Wade has a law or court decision had the potential to devastate access to reproductive health care on such a sweeping scale," said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which fought against the law.

The few clinics that will remain open now are mostly in major cities, and out of reach to residents in more rural parts of the vast southern state.

Residents of El Paso, for instance, must now travel 550 miles (885 km) to obtain an abortion in Texas, however experts say many are already travelling to the nearby state of New Mexico for the procedure.

But Republican Governor Greg Abbott and other conservatives say the law introduces standards that protect women's health.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Abortion has long been controversial in Texas.

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