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Federal Judge Rules Some Texas Abortion Restrictions Unconstitutional

Mark Wilson, Getty Images

A federal judge has ruled that some new abortion restrictions originally set to begin on Tuesday are unconstitutional.

The Associated Press reports that District Judge Lee Yeakel made the ruling Monday, following a three-day trial over abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature.

The law would require that doctors performing abortions also have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and follow stricter Federal Drug Administration protocols for pill-induced abortions.

These restrictions were the main points targeted in the lawsuit by Planned Parenthood and other groups.

Other provisions in the law include a ban on abortions once the pregnancy has reached 20 weeks, except in cases where the fetus is not viable or if the health of the mother is in danger. Also, abortion clinics would be required to raise their standards to meet the same requirements expected of surgical centers.

The 20-week ban was not included in the lawsuit since a sizable majority of abortions are done prior to 20 weeks, and the surgical center requirements were not part of the suit since it will not be enacted until 2014.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office argued that the law would protect the health of women and the life of the fetus.

Lawyers for Planned Parenthood say that the regulations do not protect the health of women and would shut down around a third of abortion clinics in Texas.

Abbott’s office will likely file an emergency appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a statement following Yeakel’s ruling, saying “Today’s decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”

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