Texas Abortion Law Ruled Unconstitutional by Federal JudgeS

One day before it was set to take effect, a federal judge struck down key parts of Texas’ draconian new abortion law Monday afternoon, preventing, at least temporarily, the shutdown of as many as 12 abortion clinics.

The law, passed this summer during a special legislative session after Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster, included a provision that would have required abortion-performing doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic. District Judge Lee Yeakel, a George W. Bush appointee, declared that such a provision created an unnecessary impediment for women seeking the procedure.

"The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her," Yeakel wrote in the ruling. Abortion-rights groups claim the provision would have required at least 12 of Texas’ 36 abortion clinics to close.

And in a less definitive victory for abortion-rights groups, Yeakel blocked a provision that would have required doctors to follow FDA protocol for prescribing abortion-inducing medication, ruling that, while the state could regulate the medication, the current form of the law did not give doctors enough freedom to adjust treatment based on their own judgement.

"The medication abortion provision may not be enforced against any physician who determines, in appropriate medical judgment, to perform the medication-abortion using off-label protocol for the preservation of the life or health of the mother," Yeakel wrote.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is likely to appeal the ruling.

[Image via AP]