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The Brief: Oct. 3, 2014

As of this morning, the number of legally operating abortion clinics in Texas can be counted on two hands.

A hallway at the Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin.

The Big Conversation

As of this morning, the number of legally operating abortion clinics in Texas can be counted on two hands. That's thanks to a decision by a three-judge panel from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the state to enforce a pair of new restrictions enacted by the Legislature last year.

It's estimated that seven or eight clinics satisfy those requirements and can remain open. It also means no abortion clinics now operate west and south of San Antonio.

A district court in Austin had previously stayed the state from enforcing provisions requiring clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and that doctors at clinics have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The state then went to the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit court asking for the ability to enforce the law "while the constitutionality of the measure remained under appeal," wrote the Tribune's Alexa Ura.

The 5th Circuit panel granted the state's request, ruling that the lower court's decision was "confusing," "inappropriate" and "directly contrary to this circuit's precedent," wrote the Houston Chronicle's Brian Rosenthal. They also ruled that the new restrictions did not create an undue burden on a large enough portion of women in Texas. An analysis performed for the clinics challenging the law found that roughly one in six "would face a substantial obstacle to abortion services," per The New York Times' Manny Fernandez.

Trib Must-Reads

Drilling Waste Site Roils Tiny Nordheim, by Jim Malewitz

Austin City Council is Primed for a Shift in November, by Bobby Blanchard

Analysis: An Acid Test for a Teflon Governor, by Ross Ramsey

Obama Administration Breaks Own Deportation Record, by Julián Aguilar

Criminal Appeals Court Judge Files Suit Over Voter ID, by Terri Langford

Is Texas Prepared for a Public Health Emergency?, by Edgar Walters and Alexa Ura


Delay in Dallas Ebola Cleanup as Workers Balk at Task, The New York Times

Student who had contact with Ebola patient attended Dallas school despite request, The Dallas Morning News

Officials reject calls for Ebola travel restrictions, Houston Chronicle

Complaint: Women at Karnes immigration facility are preyed upon by guards, San Antonio Express-News

Abbott, Davis sharpen ethics attacks on each other, Houston Chronicle

Comptroller candidate takes aim at Circuit of the Americas subsidy, Austin American-Statesman

Baker Hughes starts disclosing frack chemicals, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"I truly don’t think he has, and plus I don’t think he liked it that his older brother was pushing him.”

— Former President George W. Bush, on whether his younger brother Jeb has made up his mind on a run for president in 2016

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Panel Discussion on Changing Population, Changing Health Care, on Oct. 6 at Rice University's Baker Institute in Houston

•    A Conversation With Sam Houston, 2014 Democratic Nominee for Attorney General, on Oct. 16 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Oct. 22 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commission Candidates Steve Brown and Ryan Sitton, on Oct. 30 at The Austin Club in Austin

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

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Energy Environment Health care Politics Barack Obama Greg Abbott Rick Perry Wendy Davis