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Judge strikes down attempt to close abortion clinics in Texas

Sen. Wendy Davis, who entered the national spotlight after holding a filibuster on a Texas abortion bill, announced her intentions to run for Texas Governor.
Sen. Wendy Davis, who entered the national spotlight after holding a filibuster on a Texas abortion bill, announced her intentions to run for Texas Governor.
Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images

US District Judge Lee Yeakel has thrown out a new abortion restrictions in Texas that would have (effectively) shut down more than half the state’s 19 abortion clinics come Monday. This would have left only clinics in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin metropolitan areas open to women, leaving those in other areas such as El Paso with nowhere to go but New Mexico for the nearest help.
“The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion,” Yeakel noted in his 21-page ruling against the law, which has been seen by opponents as a “backdoor attempt to outlaw abortions, which have been a constitutional right since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe v Wade. The law would also require women who choose to take abortion pills instead of undergoing surgical abortions to travel to the ambulatory surgical centers to take the medication in front of a doctor.

The ruling blocks a portion of the law signed by Republican Governor Rick Perry in 2013 that would have required abortion facilities in Texas to “meet hospital-level operating standards, which supporters say will protect women’s health.”

An original attempt to block the bills passage was successfully achieved by Democrat Senator Wendy Davis who launched a nearly 13-hour filibuster last summer to prevent it coming to a vote by its legal deadline. Republicans however, were able to bring it back for a re-vote shortly afterwards.

In the meantime, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican (who is the favorite to become governor next year), vowed to immediately appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules. An appeal would go to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which has already upheld some provisions of the abortion law. Davis is expected to run against him.