A federal judge Friday ruled against new abortion restrictions set to go into effect in Texas this Monday. The ruling blocks a requirement that abortion centers in Texas have hospital-like facilities with operating rooms, air filtration systems, and other standards that are typically only mandated in surgical settings. Supporters of the measure said it would protect women’s health, but U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said it created an “impermissible obstacle as applied to all women seeking a previability abortion.”
The rules were part of the sweeping abortion reform law called HB2 that Gov. Rick Perry signed in 2013. HB2 has already withstood a legal challenge to another part of the law that required abortionists to have privileges at a nearby hospital. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in March that the privileges requirement did not place an undue burden on women seeking abortions.
Only 19 abortion providers remain open in Texas since the privileges requirement went into effect—down from more than 40 just two years ago. The plaintiffs in the suit, a group of abortion facilities, argued the new requirements for surgical capabilities would have closed more than a dozen centers, leaving no abortion providers in the western half of the state. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who is the favorite to become governor next year, vowed to seek an immediate appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules.