Federal Judge Blocks Key Part of Texas' New Abortion Law

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 28 2013 4:28 PM

Federal Judge Blocks Key Part of Texas' New Abortion Law

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Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) announces her intentions to run for Texas Governor at the W.G. Thomas Coliseum in Haltom City on October 3, 2013

Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday blocked key portions of Texas' new abortion law that Gov. Rick Perry and his Republican allies needed two special sessions to force through the state legislature this summer. Here's the Associated Press with the details:

New abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature are unconstitutional and will not take effect as scheduled on Tuesday, a federal judge has ruled. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote Monday that the regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics.
Lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers brought the lawsuit, arguing that a requirement that doctors have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion clinic would force the closure of a third of the clinics in Texas. They also complained that requiring doctors to follow the Food and Drug Administration's original label for an abortion-inducing drug would deny women the benefit of recent advances in medical science. The Texas attorney general's office argued that the law protects women and the life of the fetus.
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The fight over the law—which also included a ban on abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy, among other provisions—captured the nation's attention and catapulted state Sen. Wendy Davis into the national spotlight after she led an epic filibuster that ran out the clock on the first special session. Perry then called a second session, which Davis and her allies were unable to derail. The effort, however, turned Davis into a household name and laid the groundwork for her current gubernatorial campaign.

Texas AG Greg Abbott is expected to file an emergency appeal of the order to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which will then need to review the merits of the law, not just an injunction against it. Slate will have more on the ruling and its impact shortly.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.