In a sweeping and decisive victory for pro life Republicans in Texas, a three judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a controversial law passed by the Legislature in 2013 which requires abortion clinics to employ a doctor who has admitting privileges at a hospital no more than thirty miles away is constitution, and in fact is a 'prudent' regulation to 'protect the health and lives of women.'
"This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to create a law to protect the health and safety of women," Attorney general and Republican Governor candidate Greg Abbott said.
The three justices who ruled that the law is valid are all women, which will drive a huge stake through the Democratic Party argument that passing laws to make abortion safer amounts to a 'war on women.'
In fact, the judges said it is in reality pro choice groups who are waging a 'war on women.'
"During trial proceedings, Planned Parenthood conceded that at least 210 women in Texas annually must be hospitalized after seeking an abortion," the court said in its ruling. "Witnesses on both sides further testified that some of the women who are hospitalized after an abortion have complications that require an Ob/Gyn specialists' treatment. Against Planned Parenthood's claims that these women can be adequately treated without the admitting-privileges requirement, the State showed that many hospitals lack an Ob/Gyn on call for emergencies."
Pro choice groups promised an appeal.
"This decision ignores the data about the safety of these procedures and adds one more burden to a women's right to make personal decisions for herself about when, where, and how to have a family," said Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, who also took the unusual step of personally criticizing the three women who issued the ruling.
"The justices displayed a willful ignorance of what it means to be a struggling parent in Teas and the challenges to accessing reproductive health services that are four or more hours away," she said.
The ruling is also a huge setback for Democratic governor candidate Wendy Davis, who shot to prominence by filibustering this bill before the Legislature last summer.
"This ruling makes Davis appear less like Dr. Martin Luther King crusading for human rights, and more like George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door to block laws which have been considered legal and reasonable," one political analyst told 1200 WOAI news.
The case will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, but not until after the November election.