Federal judge rules controversial TX abortion law unconstitutional
POSTED: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 2:42pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 4:08pm
AUSTIN, TX — 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.
The 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.
The filibuster forced Gov. Rick Perry to order a second special legislative session for the Republican-dominated Legislature to pass the controversial law.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel decided Monday that the regulations impeded on the rights of abortion physicians to do what they judge is best for their patients and would unreasonably limit a woman's access to state abortion clinics.
Last week, Yeakel heard three days of testimony and oral arguments in Austin about the hot-button law, which opponents and abortion rights advocates sued to bar 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.
Abortion rights advocates also argued that requiring physicians to abide the Food and Drug Administration's original label for an abortion-inducing drug would block women from taking advantage of recent strides in medical science.
The Texas attorney general's office, on the other hand, contended that the restrictions protect women and the life of the fetus.
Attorney General Greg Abbott was widely expected to file an emergency appeal of Yeakel's order to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, according to the Associated Press.
Abbott, a Republican, is also running for governor.