In a move that Texas Democratic Senator Wendy Davis called “a victory for women’s health care,” a federal judge concluded that a Texas law which would have closed a majority of Texas abortion clinics unconstitutional.
The new legislation, which was scheduled to go into effect this Monday, required that abortion clinics meet the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centers. US District Judge Lee Yeakel said that forcing the clinics to meet the same requirements as surgical centers would create “an unconstitutional undue burden on women throughout Texas and must be enjoined.” As a result of this law a minimum of 12 clinics would have been forced to close their doors, leaving less than seven abortion facilities open in the entire state.
Judge Yeakel said that the legislation is contrary to the “principles of personal freedom and privacy protected by the United States Constitution for the 40 years since Roe v. Wade.” He added that other restrictive measures on abortions recently passed in Texas, such as a requirement that doctors who do abortions have hospital admitting privileges, have already overburdened women’s reproductive rights.
“The court concludes that the act’s ambulatory-surgical-center requirement, combined with the already-in-effect admitting-privileges requirement, creates a brutally effective system of regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics,” wrote the judge.
The admitting privilege provision of the law was upheld last year in federal court, forcing over half of the state’s abortion clinics to close. The Texas debate on these laws achieved national attention last year when Senator Davis, who is now running for governor, spent 11 hours in a filibuster trying to block the passage of the law.
Davis’ opponent for governor, and front-runner Attorney General Greg Abbot, who strongly backs the abortion law, said he would appeal the judge’s decision.