According to USA Today, a federal judge on Monday blocked the provision of a sweeping new Texas abortion law that requires doctors performing the procedure to have an agreement with a local hospital to admit patients, handing a partial victory to supporters of the right to abortion.
District Judge Lee Yeakel declared that two changes to the state's health and safety code, passed during a special legislative session this summer, unconstitutionally restricted women's access to abortion clinics and infringed on doctors' rights to act in their patients' best interests.
The judge also struck down the statue that required doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic, which opponents said would force 13 of the state's 32 clinics to close. Research by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project estimated that the regulations would prevent more than 22,000 women from accessing abortion facilities.
In a 26-page opinion, Yeakel also blocked a provision requiring physicians to strictly follow follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocols when prescribing "off-label" doses of pregnancy-ending drugs, limiting their treatment options. He called the lawmakers' action "an undue burden on those women for whom surgical abortion is, in the sound medical opinion of their treating physician, a significant health risk."
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott immediately appealed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Courts of Appeals in New Orleans, which would rule on the merits of the law.
"I have no doubt that this case is going all the way to the United States Supreme Court," Abbott, a Republican running to replace Gov. Rick Perry, said during a campaign stop in Brownsville, the Associated Press reported.
A ban on abortions in Texas after 20 weeks gestation will go into effect on Tuesday as it was not challenged by the lawsuit. A requirement that facilities where abortions are performed meet the standards of hospital emergency centers is set to take effect next year.
Some 18 states, including Texas, have enacted laws restricting drug-induced abortions or holding them to the stricter federal guideline, Nash said. Such laws have gone into effect in 14 states, but have been blocked by legal action in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma, and are being challenged in Iowa, she said.
Emily Sutherlin is also the Pregnancy Examiner.
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