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Here’s an interesting article from the National Journal that looks at the lasting effects of abortion-restricting legislation recently passed in Texas. Even though elements of the laws are likely to be decided by the Supreme Court, as the article notes, abortion providers in the state are facing closures, and may never reopen no matter what the courts ultimately decide.

There were more than 40 clinics that provided abortions in Texas in 2011. There are now 20 still open, and after the law's last steps of implementation are taken in September, all but six are expected to close. Most of the closed clinics will never reopen, their operators say.

Texas’ laws that put new restrictions on abortion providers became the subject of a national dialogue after Sen. Wendy Davis conducted a day-long filibuster attempting to block it from going through last year. Though initially successful, Gov. Rick Perry eventually had the new measures passed, effectively shutting down almost every abortion provider in the state ... Discuss

Though the big news from the Vatican this weekend was the canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II, it was Pope Francis who also made headlines for comments he gave before the event. On Friday afternoon, Pope Francis met with a group of bishops from Africa and spoke out about controversial issues including divorce and abortion. Though he’s been vocal about the church’s opposition to abortion before (he recently called it an “unspeakable crime”), in many occasions, the pope has focused more on issues like poverty and service than controversial ones. He told the bishops:

Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn … The rate of separation and divorce is high, even in many Christian families, and children frequently do not grow up in a stable home environment. We also observe with great concern, and can only deplore, an increase in violence against women and children … All these realities threaten the sanctity of marriage, the stability of life in the home and consequently the life of society as a whole.

This week, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill that makes it illegal for women in the state to get an abortion “at 20 weeks or more gestation.” Planned a Parenthood, who are critics of the measure, say that because of how the bill is technically written, the law is actually an 18-week ban. Though the ban does not contain exceptions in cases of rape or incest, according to Mississippi’s The Clarion-Ledger, “the bill would allow exemptions in cases where the mother's life is in danger or where it is determined the fetus has problems and no chance of survival” ... Discuss

A federal judge in Tucson has decided not to block restrictions Arizona lawmakers placed on certain abortion-inducing drugs. In some parts of the state, abortion providers do not offer surgical abortions, and only use the drugs, which are now, because of the ruling, limited to the first seven weeks of pregnancy. The judge disagreed with Planned Parenthood and other plaintiffs in the case, who argued that the new measures unconstitutionally limited access to abortion in the state ... Discuss

New laws in Texas that have forced almost 20 abortion-providing clinics across the state to close have been upheld by a federal appeals court. Overturning a lower court’s decision that ruled that the laws unconstitutionally limited access to abortion in the state, New Orleans-based 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judges wrote, “on its face does not impose an undue burden on the life and health of a woman." As scheduled, even more restrictions will be put in place later this year. The measures were the subject of intense debate in the state and gained national attention after Sen. Wendy Davis staged a day-long filibuster in an attempt to block the vote. Planned Parenthood had sued to stop the law from taking effect, and said that they once again plan to appeal—this time to the Supreme Court ... Discuss

Despite her famous 13-hour filibuster last year against new abortion legislation in Texas, Sen. Wendy Davis says she actually supports a 20-week ban on abortion. In a new interview, she clarified her position, saying that she would have actually voted for the Texas abortion law—that was eventually passed after her filibuster—if it wasn’t for other measures that did not defer to the woman or doctor in cases of potential abnormalities or risks to the mother’s health. “I would have and could have voted to allow that to go through, if I felt like we had tightly defined the ability for a woman and a doctor to be making this decision together and not have the Legislature get too deep in the weeds of how we would describe when that was appropriate.” As CBS News points out, the position may be an effort to widen her political appeal in the state, as she may be preparing to run for governor: “By supporting a version of the 20-week ban, Davis is likely trying to stake out broader support in her conservative state” ... Discuss