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U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel strikes down Texas abortion limits

10:38 PM, Oct 28, 2013   |    comments
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In this July 9, 2013 file photo, opponents and supporters of an abortion bill hold signs near a news conference outside the Texas Capitol, in Austin, Texas. / AP PHOTO/ERIC GAY, FILE



(USA TODAY) -- A federal judge has struck down strict limits on abortion in Texas that were to take effect Tuesday.

District Judge Lee Yeakel declared that the new regulations, passed during a special legislative session this summer, unconstitutionally restricted women's access to abortion clinics and infringed on doctors' rights to act in their patients' best interests.

The law, one of the strictest in the nation, banned abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and required doctors to perform all abortion in surgical facilities starting next October. Doctors would also be required to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of an abortion clinic, which opponents said would force 13 of the state's 32 clinics to close.

Limits were also placed on pregnancy-ending drugs that physicians could prescribe.

Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis shot to national attention when she filibustered against the measure, House Bill 2, for nearly 13 hours in June, leading to its defeat at the close of the special legislative session. 

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the measure in July after Gov. Rick Perry call a second special legislative session. He later signed the bill into law, which was challenged last month in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is expected to appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Courts of Appeals in New Orleans, which would rule on the merits of the law.

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