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Federal Three-Judge Panel Deciding Fate Of Texas Abortion Clinic Restriction Law

David Martin Davies
TPR News
Anti-abortion protesters outside the Stand With Texas Women rally in San Antonio this summer, when debate over the then bill reached a boiling point..

With final arguments and questioning now complete, it is now up to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans to decide whether or not the new Texas abortion clinic restriction law is constitutional.

Kyleen Wright, who is the president of the anti-abortion group Texans for Life, was inside the courtroom in New Orleans and said based on the questions federal judges had, the law, in her opinion, stands a good chance of being upheld.

"They were very skeptical that this ever rose to the level of emergency that they created," Wright said.

Wright said Planned Parenthood had a hard time convincing the three-judge panel that the law had caused clinics to close and that it would jeopardize a woman’s access to abortion.

"Some of their claims haven’t come true," Wright said. "Clearly doctors are getting privileges. All these clinics haven’t been closed -- some of them are re-opening."

But Janet Crepps, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion group, said the judges were focused on the difficult questions in the case that involve both the proper legal standard and what the evidence showed for both side.

"It’s hard to predict how the court is going to rule based on the questions that they asked because they had questions for both sides," Crepps said. "And obviously we hope that the court won’t stick to the decision that issued by the state panel earlier in this case and that they will give everything a fresh look."

Crepps  said it’s easy to see how Justices on the panel like Federal Judge Edith Jones will rule.

"As we know, she has expressed in other cases that she thinks the constitutional protection for abortion is too much so that may be reflected in her opinion," Crepps said.

Two of the judges on the panel were on the original state panel that decided the law would remain in effect while both parties awaited a final decision. Pro-abortion groups are also exploring the option of appealing  this decision by requesting a different panel of federal judges at the 5th Circuit Court.

Crepps said cases before a U.S. appeals court usually take months to decide but because this case has been expedited they should hear something in the next week or two.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.