AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that most of Texas’ tough new abortion restrictions can take effect immediately, a decision that means at least 12 clinics will not be able to perform the procedure starting as soon as Friday.
A panel of judges at the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans said the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital can take effect while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward. The panel issued the ruling three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision serves no medical purpose.
In its 20-page ruling, the appeals court panel acknowledged that the provision ‘‘may increase the cost of accessing an abortion provider and decrease the number of physicians available to perform abortions.’’ However, the panel said that the US Supreme Court has held that having ‘‘the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate’’ a law that serves a valid purpose, ‘‘one not designed to strike at the right itself.’’
After Yeakel halted the restrictions, Attorney General Greg Abbott of Texas had made an emergency appeal to the conservative Fifth Circuit, arguing that the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges is a constitutional use of the Legislature’s authority.
Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers had argued that the regulations do not protect women and would shut down a third of the 32 abortion clinics in Texas.