On Aug. 29 U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel banned the state of Texas from implementing an abortion regulation that would have closed 19 licensed clinics, leaving additional areas in the state without an abortion provider, according to The Austin American-Statesman.
Yeakel, a federal judge in Austin, ruled that the regulation that requires all abortion clinics to have the same guidelines as ambulatory surgical centers was a “burden on women throughout Texas,” as stated by the news article. To meet the same standards as outpatient surgical centers – also known as ambulatory surgical centers – any doctor performing abortions needs to have hospital privileges within 30 miles of the clinic.
According to The Austin American-Statesman, the surgical center regulation would have left no abortion clinics running west or south of San Antonio. Texas’ largest metropolitan areas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, have seven combined clinics licensed as ambulatory surgical centers with an eighth clinic under construction.
In addition, Yeakel also revoked another regulation that requires abortion doctors to gain admitting privileges in a hospital nearby, ruling that it also put an unwarranted burden on women.
The admitting privileges rule was temporarily overturned in 2013 when Yeakel ruled that it was an “improper limit on access to abortion and offered no medical benefits.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Yeakel’s ruling and Texas started enforcing the regulation Nov. 1.
Whole Woman’s Health of Fort Worth and Whole Woman’s Health of San Antonio will stay open because of Yeakel’s ruling. According to Whole Woman’s Health, the clinic in McAllen has reopened its doors after being shut down in March.