National women’s rights groups and Texas abortion clinics filed suit Friday in federal court in Texas, seeking to block provisions of a new state law that they said would have “dramatic and Draconian effects” on women’s access to the procedure.
The suit targets two provisions of a sweeping law that Texas adopted in July.
The rules are scheduled to take effect Oct. 29.
The first is a requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
Many medical specialists say the rule, which was passed in the name of safety, is medically unnecessary and cannot be met by clinics in smaller communities.
In a telephone news conference Friday, Texas clinic owners said that this rule may force one-third of the state’s 36 abortion clinics to shut down, leaving large areas of the state without ready access.
The second requires the use in so-called medication abortions of what many doctors called an outdated, less effective, and more dangerous drug protocol.
Under guidelines based on research studies, the two-drug combination is widely used through the ninth week of pregnancy and accounts for about 1 in 5 abortions nationwide.
Under the Texas law, clinics would have to follow, instead, a regime described in the original Food and Drug Administration approval in 2000.
Based on initial studies, it required doses three times those of the current protocol and an extra visit to the clinic and was recommended only through seven weeks of pregnancy.
“Politicians are interfering with the personal medical decisions of women who already have the least access to birth control and preventive health care,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, one of the groups bringing the suit.
Governor Rick Perry, who has said he hopes to make abortion “a thing of the past,” signed the legislation in July after calling a special session of the Legislature to pass it.
The bill had come under a national spotlight when Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator, temporarily derailed passage in the Republican-controlled Legislature with a filibuster.
Perry and Republican leaders described the law as important to protect women’s health.
Opponents called it an unconstitutional attack on abortion rights and a thinly disguised effort to close clinics.