Several women's health providers filed a motion on Wednesday seeking to halt a U.S. appeals court decision a day earlier allowing Texas to impose restrictions on abortions, and said they plan to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the main provisions of the 2013 Texas abortion law including one called an "ambulatory surgical center" requirement that mandates clinics have certain hospital-grade facilities, a regulatory hurdle critics said was designed to shut down abortion providers.
"Plaintiffs respectfully ask the Court to stay its mandate to preserve abortion access for all Texas women while Plaintiffs file a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court," the groups, which include Whole Woman's Health, said in the petition.
In its decision, the appeals court said the state intended its measures to protect women's health. The groups said allowing the provision to take effect would close almost all abortion clinics in the state, a situation the Supreme Court has previously not allowed.
Critics have contested the law in courts since it was approved. They say its provisions have no public health benefits, place an undue burden on women and have a negative impact by forcing women to seek abortions at illegal and unlicensed facilities.
The law's supporters have said it would protect women from substandard abortion facilities and raise the standard of care.
Texas, the most populous Republican-controlled U.S. state, has been at the forefront of advancing regulations restricting access to abortion.
Before the law went into effect, there were about 40 licensed abortion facilities in Texas, a state of about 27 million people. That clinic number is expected to drop to about eight with the ambulatory surgical center requirement in effect, a U.S. district court judge said, citing evidence.
Under the provision, clinics must meet a set of building standards ranging from wider halls to having facilities for certain surgeries.
Abortion rights advocates have said such requirements are unnecessary, especially when an abortion is medically induced rather than performed through surgery.
The provision is expected to take effect on July 1, the petition said.
The law also requires doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. This provision has already taken effect.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)