SAN ANTONIO -- A federal appeals court delivered a stinging blow to reproductive rights supporters in Texas. A landmark ruling, delivered Tuesday, upheld state law imposing stringent standards on abortion providers.
The decision reaffirms state law requiring abortion clinics to have hospital-quality surgical centers and patient transfer with nearby hospitals.
"I don't know anybody out there who is opposed to raising the medical standard for women," said Weston Martinez, a spokesman with the anti-abortion group Texas Values.
Reproductive rights advocates believe the court misfired with its decision. They say Texas laws heap expensive costs on clinics in small towns, which they can't afford. As a result, only 8 abortion clinics will remain in Texas.
Holly Benavides, a volunteer with the reproductive equality non-profit Lilith Fund, said women outside big cities will be forced to choose between driving hours for an abortion or getting one through sketchy means.
"People are going die, women are going die," said Benavides.
The Lilith Fund is now working with other non-profits and volunteer groups to provide payment assistance to woman who have no nearby options, and increase access to free rides and hotel vouchers.
That support may be necessary for a long time to come in the state, with the court making a significant statement backing a state's right to regulate abortion.
"This is just one step on a process that will keep on going to proving that Texas can become the most pro-life state in the country," said Verastigui.
Two abortions providers will continue to operate in San Antonio. Planned Parenthood operates two clinics on Babcock Rd on the Northwest side. Whole Woman's Health operates one clinic on the Southeast side.