Texas can’t enforce a law that would have left the second-largest U.S. state with fewer than 10 abortion clinics, a federal judge ruled, extending to three a run of pro-clinic rulings by federal judges in the region.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel today ruled a state law requiring abortion facilities to meet the same physical standards as outpatient surgical centers by Sept. 1 imposes an undue burden on women’s access to safe legal abortion.
Federal judges this year have blocked two states from enforcing laws that would have cut the number of abortion clinics in Alabama to two and left Mississippi without any.
Women’s organizations said the Texas law would have closed all abortion clinics west and south of San Antonio, forcing some women to travel more than 500 miles to obtain the procedure in major cities in the eastern and central parts of the state.
Yeakel blocked the state from enforcing the strict new building requirements on any currently licensed abortion facility and prohibited the state from closing two remaining clinics in west Texas and the Rio Grande Valley where doctors couldn’t comply with an earlier rule that they have admitting privileges at a local hospital.
“When the two provisions are considered together, they create a scheme that effects the closing of almost all abortion clinics in Texas that were operating legally in the fall of 2013,” Yeakel said in the ruling.