AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge Friday threw out new Texas abortion restrictions that would have effectively closed more than a dozen clinics in the state.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel sided with clinics that sued over one of the most disputed measures of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry in 2013. The ruling stops new restrictions that would have left just seven abortion facilities open in Texas by Sept. 1; there are currently 19 providers in Texas, according to the groups challenging the law.
"The overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion," Yeakel wrote in his 21-page ruling. The trial in Texas was the latest battle over tough new abortion restrictions sweeping across the U.S. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite to become governor next year, was expected to appeal.
The law would have required abortion facilities in Texas to meet hospital-level operating standards, which supporters say will protect women's health. Clinics called it a backdoor effort to outlaw abortions. The more stringent Texas requirements — such as mandatory operating rooms and air filtration systems — would have effectively shuttered 18 licensed abortion clinics in Texas. Some already no longer offer abortions after another part of the 2013 bill required doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
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