Lawsuit challenging abortion law provision wraps up

AUSTIN, Texas (AP/Tina Shively) -- A federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against new Texas abortion restrictions says he has a problem with anyone traveling 150 miles for medical care if the procedure could be done closer.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel on Wednesday didn't issue a ruling following closing arguments in a trial challenging a Texas law that would ban abortions at more than dozen clinics starting Sept. 1.

But Yeakel honed in on the question of how far is too far for a woman to obtain the constitutional right of ending a pregnancy.

The lawyer for the plaintiff argued that during last week's testimony the state did not provide enough medical evidence that the provision to upgrade all abortion clinics to ambulatory surgical centers was necessary.

She said the state had 41 clinics, and now has seven, and the situation would likely get worse if the law is not changed.

When this trial began on Aug. 4, those in favor of the law filled Austin's Republic Square Park, wearing blue and singing Christian music. On Wednesday, those who oppose it are holding signs and rallying, wearing orange.

"This is an entire backlash against all the advancements that women have made, and we see in recent years a real upping of the ante. A pro-choice movement that has receded into the background," said protester Alex Petersburg.

House Bill 2 passed last year. It requires all Texas abortion facilities to meet operational standards similar to a hospital by Sept. 1. The lead plaintiff in this case is Whole Women's Health. Its Austin location closed earlier this month because it couldn't afford the renovations needed to stay open.


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