The nation’s largest provider of abortions sued the state of Texas on Friday over a controversial new law that puts restrictions on abortions.
Planned Parenthood, which has nearly 750 affiliate health centers, faces a loss of a large number of their centers in the state due to provisions within the new law, the organization's officials argue.
The lawsuit challenges a provision stating that doctors who provide abortions must have admitting privileges at a local hospital, and another part that requires direct supervision of a doctor for women to receive the so-called "abortion pill" RU-486.
"We're in court today to stop a terrible situation for women in Texas from getting even worse," Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
The Texas attorney general's office had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Opponents argue the new law could make it difficult for women to get an abortion in rural areas of the state. They also say the procedure requires very few women to be admitted to a hospital.
Patricio Gonzales, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Association in Hidalgo County, Texas, told NBC News that he’s concerned the new provisions will prompt women to seek illegal medications from Mexico to terminate a pregnancy.
“It’s going to drive poor women to illegal means or ways to terminate the pregnancy, which puts them at risk health wise,” he said.
Gonzales added that some of the illegal medications available in Mexico cause serious hemorrhaging and bleeding, sending women to Texas emergency rooms.
“This bill doesn’t do anything to prevent abortions,” he said. "(It’s) going to harm more than do any good.”
The new provisions will not go into effect until Oct. 29.
The issue has dominated Texas politics and helped to elevate the profile of a leading Democratic critic, state Sen. Wendy Davis, who staged a nearly 11-hour filibuster against abortion restrictions and has told supporters she may run for governor.
Reuters contributed to this report.
First published September 27 2013, 9:28 AM