Federal judge sacks Texas abortion law

Published 10/28 2013 03:41PM

Updated 10/28 2013 07:51PM

In a stunning move, a federal judge Monday ruled that abortion restrictions authorized by Texas lawmakers in July are unconstitutional, and will not be implemented as scheduled on Tuesday, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filibusters in an effort to stamp out the abortion bill, June 25, in Austin, Texas.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel decided Monday that the regulations requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital impeded on the rights of physicians to do what they judge is best for their patients and would unreasonably limit a woman's access to state abortion clinics.

"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 his decision.

Although Yeakel ruled that Texas could regulate how a doctor prescribes an abortion-inducing pull, he said the law did not permit a doctor to adjust treatment taken in order to best safeguard the health of the woman taking it.

He wrote: "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's decision comes four months after Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, now a candidate for governor, staged a dramatic 13-hour filibuster against the proposed restrictions, widely considered among the most stringent in the country.

The filibuster forced Gov. Rick Perry to order a second special legislative session for the Republican-dominated Legislature to pass the controversial law.

Last  week, Yeakel heard three days of testimony and oral arguments in Austin about the hot-button law, which opponents and abortion-rights advocates had sued to prevent from taking effect.

Those opponents, including lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, contended that the rule that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic would force a third of the clinics in the state to shutter,,,.By Daniel Arkin, Staff Writer, NB C News

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