NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal appeals court in New Orleans is set to hear arguments on the constitutionality of a Texas requirement that abortion clinics meet the same standards as the state's ambulatory surgical centers.

A federal judge has said the requirement — part of broad abortion legislation passed in Texas in 2013 — is an unconstitutional obstacle to abortion access.

Texas officials defending the law say its purpose is to improve health by raising standards of care.

Wednesday morning's arguments were set before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seventeen clinics where the medical procedures are performed operate in Texas now. If the state prevails, that number is expected to drop to eight.