NEW ORLEANS (AP) – A federal appeals court that has already upheld a Texas law restricting abortions heard arguments Friday about an even tougher part of the same law, which requires all abortion clinics to adopt costly standards mandated for walk-in surgical clinics.

Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchell asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate the requirement found unconstitutional by a federal judge in Austin.

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The state also wants the court to overturn another part of Judge Lee Yeakel’s Aug. 29 order, which exempts clinics in McAllen and El Paso from the section requiring doctors who perform abortions to be able to admit their patients to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Abortion clinics attorney Stephanie Toti said the order mandating that the clinics serve as surgical centers would make it difficult for many Texas women to obtain abortions.

Judges Jerry E. Smith, Stephen A. Higginson and Jennifer Walker Elrod heard Friday’s arguments.

Elrod was among the three judges who upheld the admitting-privilege requirement in March. That decision overturned Yeakel’s October ruling that it placed an unconstitutional burden on women seeking an abortion and didn’t make the process safer.

In August, Yeakel ruled that requiring operating rooms, staffing, parking and other standards that are typically only required for surgery would make it unconstitutionally difficult for women to get abortions because it would close all but seven or eight clinics in a state “10 percent larger than France.”

Of Texas’ 433 licensed outpatient surgical clinics, 336 have waivers of state standards because they were in business before the standards went into effect, while abortion clinics cannot get such “grandfathered” waivers, Yeakel noted.

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He also ruled that, taken together, the admitting-privileges and clinic standards requirements make it too difficult for women to get abortions, making the law unconstitutional.

Texas currently has about 20 abortion providers, down from more than 40 two years ago, according to groups that sued the state.

Whole Woman’s Health Clinic in McAllen, near the Mexico border, closed after the 5th Circuit ruled in March but reopened last weekend.

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