US appeals court upholds restrictive Texas abortion law
A judge's gavel (Shutterstock)

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday upheld the main provisions of a restrictive Texas abortion law including one that requires clinics to have certain hospital-grade facilities, a regulatory hurdle critics said was designed to shutter abortion providers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit allowed for the 2013 law to be applied across the state, although it exempted a clinic in the southern city of McAllen, saying its distance from other clinics would cause an undue burden on women in that area.

In its decision, the court's three-judge panel said the state's measures were lawful and intended to protect women's health.

Under the so-called "ambulatory surgical center requirement" clinics would have had to meet a set of building standards ranging from widening halls to having facilities for certain surgeries.

Abortion opponents welcomed the ruling. Americans United for Life, which backed the law, said the decision would protect "women from substandard abortion facilities and practices."

Abortion rights advocates have said such requirements are unnecessary, especially when an abortion is medically induced.

"Once again, women across the state of Texas face the near total elimination of safe and legal options for ending a pregnancy, and the denial of their constitutional rights," Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.