Judge strikes down Texas abortion restrictions

A federal just struck down a key provision of Texas’s new abortion law Friday, just days before it would have forced abortion clinics to close.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said requiring clinics to meet ambulatory surgical center standards — on par with hospitals — would cause many clinics to close, placing an unconstitutional restriction on womens’ rights to access to the procedure, the Dallas Morning News reported.

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“The ambulatory-surgical-center requirement is unconstitutional because it imposes an undue burden on the right of women throughout Texas to seek a previability abortion,” Yeakel wrote in his ruling.

The provision would have shuttered all but seven of the state’s 19 abortion clinics to close Monday, the Morning News said. It was one of the most controversial pieces of a sweeping anti-abortion bill signed into law in 2013 by Gov. Rick Perry.

Yeakel said that the intent of the ambulatory surgical center provision was only to “close existing licensed abortion clinics.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott said he would immediately appeal the ruling to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, based in New Orleans, according to the Morning News. That court has already upheld other parts of the law.

Abbott, a Republican, is the front-runner in this year’s gubernatorial election.

Yeakel also ruled that abortion clinics in McAllen and El Paso should be exempt from the requirement that abortion clinic doctors have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.