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Abortion Clinics Start Closing Across Texas

Planned Parenthood Office
(credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Planned Parenthood will stop providing abortions at four clinics on Friday after a federal appeals court reinstated most of the state's controversial new abortion law. The ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals late Thursday means that many abortion clinics across the state of Texas are required to stop providing the procedure immediately.

Even though Planned Parenthood is no longer able to provide abortions at the four locations, their doors will remain open and they will continue to provide birth control, cancer screenings and other preventive care. Planned Parenthood said more than 90 percent of its services are basic, preventive health care.

Another court had overturned parts of the law earlier this week, ruling them unconstitutional.

At issue is a requirement that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The appellate court said that the state has a significant interest in regulating the medical profession.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement. "This unanimous decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women," he said.

Planned Parenthood stated that one third of all abortion providers will stop performing abortions, and a spokesperson for the organization said that there will be no abortion providers in Tarrant County. "Today's ruling will have tragic consequences for women in Texas and across the state," said Danielle Wells of Planned Parenthood. "It means that one in three Texas women will no longer have access to safe abortion services."

The Whole Woman's Health Clinic of Fort Worth was not closed yet on Friday morning, but it will be soon. Staff members were busy calling patients and preparing for a shut down as CBS 11 News cameras stepped inside. Administrators said that the clinic conducts approximately 50 abortions every week.

Those who were scheduled to come in Friday had to be notifed about the last minute change. "We called a total of 15 patients this morning and, of those 15 patients, 14 of them agreed that they're going to be forced to be mothers," said Marva Sadler with Whole Woman's Health Clinic of Fort Worth, "because they cannot afford to travel to the further distances to the clinics that are currently open."

Whole Woman's Health Clinic has five locations across Texas. Offices in Austin and Beaumont will remain open because doctors there have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Patients in Fort Worth have been told that they can travel to one of those two locations.

"I'm excited that they're closing," stated pro-life advocate Teresa Johnson. "I'm not excited that these workers are going to have to try to find new jobs, in the sense that it puts stress on their lives. We're here of them as well. We're going to be here for the workers also. We've always been here for everybody."

The debate on this issue is far from over. The appeals court ruled that, while the requirements can take effect beginning on Friday, a lawsuit challenging the restrictions is allowed to move forward.

Despite the recent developments in the abortion debate, Planned Parenthood said that regardless of what happens in the courts, it will continue to be here for the Texas women and families who rely on them.

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