AUSTIN, Texas -- Abortion clinics around Texas will be open, and operate as normal Tuesday. A federal judge ruled Monday that parts of a controversial Texas law are unconstitutional.
The ruling came down from Judge Lee Yeakel at Austin's federal courthouse. He ruled that the segment of the law that required abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges within 30-miles of their practice was unconstitutional.
The admitting privileges provision 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, Judge Lee Yeakel, an appointee of President George W. Bush, a former Texas Republican governor, wrote in his decision.
That means clinics across Texas, some who had stopped taking appointments in anticipation of the deadline, will remain open.
The lawsuit also challenged dosing requirements for abortion drug RU 486. Some doctors said the new requirements are based on outdated and more risky Food and Drug Administration protocols. Judge Yeakel ruled that part of the law is not unconstitutional, but did gave physicians more leeway in situations where there may be a safety risk for their patients.
The portion of the law that bans abortions after 20 weeks took effect at midnight. A requirement that all abortions take place in a surgical facility will still take effect next fall.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed an appeal to Judge Yeakel's ruling before it became public.
I have no doubt that this case is going all the way to the United States Supreme Court, Abbott said during a stop in Brownsville, Texas, as part of his campaign to replace retiring Gov. Rick Perry.
If Abbott wins the Republican nomination for governor, his opponent will be Democrat State Senator Wendy Davis. She gained national attention at the state Capitol in June for a nearly 13-hour filibuster that temporarily stalled passage of the abortion law in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Federal judges in Wisconsin, Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama also have found problems with state laws prohibiting doctors from conducting abortions if they don't have hospital admitting privileges.
All the other appeals - including the one from Mississippi, which like Texas is within the 5th Circuit - deal only with whether to lift a temporary injunction preventing the restriction from taking effect. The Texas appeal could be the first that directly addresses the question of whether the provision violates the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.