Some of the heavily-criticized restrictions on women's health clinics that provided the impetus for state Sen. Wendy Davis' (D) gubernatorial campaign were declared unconstitutional by a federal judge on Monday, the Associated Press reported.
District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in his decision that House Bill 2's requirement that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their facility, which opponents say would have shuttered a third of the state's clinics capable of providing abortions, constituted an undue obstacle for women seeking the procedure.
The requirement, Yeakel ruled, "does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health." He also gutted a provision requiring doctors to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations set in the year 2000, following testimony that demonstrated that more recent methods are less expensive than the RU486 pill and requires less dosage. Yeakel ruled that the state may not file charges against a medical provider for prescribing treatment developed after the FDA guidelines were instituted.
Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed the bill into law on July 18, following two special legislative sessions designed to fast-track it into effect.
The first of the sessions, on June 26, was marked by both Davis' 11-hour filibuster and an entire day of protesting at the state Capitol, culminating in demonstrators defying authorities and shouting through the final few minutes of the session, delaying the law from making its way to Perry's desk.
Davis, whose star has risen in Democratic circles since the filibuster, has subsequently begun a campaign to succeed Perry. State Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is expected to file an emergency appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, is likely to be the Republican candidate running against Davis.
"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently," Perry was quoted as saying on Monday. "We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans."
Yeakel's decision can be read in full below.
[Image by American Life League, via Flickr Creative Commons]