Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Judge Knocks Down Major Parts of New Texas Abortion Law

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Judge Knocks Down Major Parts of New Texas Abortion Law

Article excerpt

A federal judge struck down two provisions of a controversial Texas abortion law on Friday, ruling that they created an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortions in the state.

US District Judge Lee Yeakel issued the ruling after conducting a trial earlier this month.

At issue were two provisions of a Texas law that required abortion providers to maintain the same building requirements as an ambulatory surgical center.

The law, known as HB 2, also required that any abortion provider have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

The judge found that both provisions when enforced together created a substantial obstacle for women seeking access to abortion services.

"The court concludes that the act's ambulatory-surgical-center requirements, combined with the already in-effect admitting privileges requirement, creates a brutally effective system of abortion regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics thereby creating a statewide burden for substantial numbers of Texas women," Judge Yeakel wrote in the 21-page decision.

The judge also concluded that state lawmakers enacted the ambulatory-surgical center requirement with the intention of forcing existing licensed abortion clinics in Texas to close.

The abortion law has forced half of the state's 40 abortion clinics to close and the judge said that unless the measure was enjoined there would only be seven or eight clinics remaining in the entire state of Texas.

The ambulatory-surgical-center requirement was scheduled to become effective on Monday, September 1.

"Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand, the court concludes that the practical impact on Texas women due to the clinics' closure statewide would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion," the judge said.

Women's rights groups hailed the decision.

"This trial and today's decision have stripped away the pretexts of the politicians who passed this law and revealed their true intention to deny Texas women access to safe, legal abortion care," Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, in a statement. …

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