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Some of the strictest abortion restrictions in the country have been tossed out just one day before they were supposed to take effect in Texas.
A federal judge ruled that parts of the new Texas law are unconstitutional because they would make getting an abortion in the state nearly impossible. Under the law, doctors would need admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of any abortion clinic, and they would have to follow strict rules for pill-induced medical abortions.
The law inspired a nearly 13-hour filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis, who is now running for governor, and prompted a protest of screams when lawmakers tried to vote back in June.
Planned Parenthood and abortion providers in the state challenged the law, but the attorney general called it necessary to protect women, and protect the life of a fetus.
"The Supreme Court has said about abortion that a law cannot be an undue burden on the rights of women," said senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
While what constitutes an undue burden remains debatable among judges, Toobin said, "What this judge decided in Texas was that the idea that all the doctors in a given clinic have to have admitting privileges at a local hospital would have required about two-thirds of the current abortion clinics in Texas to close, and that, he said, was not medically justified and an undue burden on the right of women to have abortions in Texas. So it was unconstitutional."
Texas Governor Rick Perry commented on today's ruling, saying in a statement, "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 ... We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, wills that reflect the laws and values of Texas."
The law also bans abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it is unclear if that part of the law will be upheld.
"That is not fully resolved yet," said Toobine. "Ever since the Republicans took over so many state houses in 2010, many of them have passed more restrictive abortion laws. Some, even more restrictive than Texas. Those are now all working their way through the courts.
Governor Perry, and Texas state Attorney General Jim Abbott, who is also a candidate for governor, will appeal this decision to the fifth circuit court of appeals.
"The Supreme Court is going to have to weigh in on all these issues," said Toobin.
"The Supreme Court hasn't had a real abortion case in about ten years, but so many new laws have passed and whether it's this law or the law in Arkansas, Dakotas, one of these laws will wind up before the Supreme Court relatively soon, and we'll get a lot more clarity on what's constitutional and what's not," said Toobin.