We’ll be updating this story from Carrie throughout the day.
1:00 p.m. update:
Lawyers for Texas were here to defend a state law requiring abortion clinics to a meet the more expensive standards of out-patient surgery centers.
Lawyers for the clinics had managed to get that part of the law struck down this summer, so the state appealed to the 5th circuit here in New Orleans.
A three-judge panel questioned both sides this morning for about ninety minutes.
Arguments centered on women in El Paso where only one clinic is still open. If that one closes because of the law, women would have to drive move than 700 miles to San Antonio for an abortion. Or they could cross the border to New Mexico for an abortion. Although judges and lawyers debated today whether Texas can use that legal escape clause to argue El Paso women still have legal access to abortion.
The court’s ruling could force about ten clinics to shut down immediately.
A decision isn’t expected for a few weeks, but the courtroom itself was packed today with observers and media.
And outside afterwards, Latino women from Texas held a protest for abortion rights.
The law has a number of restrictions on abortion and clinic, but this lawsuit is about the requirement that clinics meet the same standards as outpatient surgery centers.
According to the Associated Press, seventeen clinics where the medical procedures are performed operate in Texas now. If the state prevails, that number is expected to drop to eight, because the other facilities lack operating rooms or would need costly additions.
But the state appealed, which brings us to today, when both sides will argue before the before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans at 9 a.m.