abortion rights activist
US administration urges Supreme Court to overturn the abortion law in Texas. Picture: Two abortion rights activists lie on the floor after being handcuffed for disrupting a special session of the state Senate to consider legislation restricting abortion rights in Austin, Texas July 12, 2013.Reuters

The US administration asked the Supreme Court on Monday, 4 January, to overturn the Texas abortion law saying it harms women's reproductive rights instead of protecting them.

One-third of abortion clinics in Texas have been shut down since they don't meet the eligibility criteria set by the state. The clinics have sued the state and are being represented by the Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR). The Obama administration, which has been vocal about its position in favour of reproductive rights of women, is representing the "friend of the court" brief to the Supreme Court.

The law would restrict access to abortion clinics, forcing women to travel to other states to be able to exercise their reproductive rights.

"Those requirements are unnecessary to protect — indeed, would harm — women's health, and they would result in closure of three quarters of the abortion clinics in the state," Reuters quoted US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli as saying.

The new regulations, which direct abortion clinics in Texas to have hospital-grade facilities and clinic doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges, is restrictive, said the Obama administration.

The Republican-backed regulations would close down one-third of the clinics in the state and are unnecessary as abortions in Texas have been safe and have had a low rate of complications, the Obama administration argued.

The CRR, which is representing the abortion clinics that have sued the state, said the regulations disguised as health concerns "are nothing more than a pretext for restricting access to abortion".

Texas officials have defended the regulation saying the state has interest in protecting women who seek abortion.

Currently, 10 states in the US require doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges and six require the clinics to have hospital-grade facilities.

This is the first abortion case in the Supreme Court since 2007. The current case doesn't raise questions of the fundamental right to have an abortion, but instead ensures stringent regulations are put in place.