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Federal judge rules against restriction in Texas abortion law

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SAN ANTONIO – On Friday, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled against regulations in the abortion law Gov. Rick Perry signed last July, saying they put "undue burden on women."  

The regulation called for all clinics that provide abortions to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers.  

"This is a really important victory for people who are especially in south and west Texas who already have less access to clinics than anybody else does and were in danger of having those all taken away," said Lindsay Rodriguez of Lilith Fund, a pro-choice group. "We've already seen a lot of clinics close in anticipation of this law going into full effect because they haven't had the economic means or their doctors haven't been able to get admitting privileges for any number of political reasons that don't have anything to do with the health and safety of a really safe medical procedure."

The bill, which passed during a second special session in the last legislative session, bans abortions after 20 weeks, requires that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of clinics and also required pharmaceutical abortions be given according to standards more than a decade old.  

Rodriguez said San Antonio has become a destination for many patients in the surrounding areas with nowhere else to go.

"People have to travel here for days, they have to arrange child care, they have to arrange lodging to be able to get those procedures," she said. "They all have to take place at the same clinic which, especially for people that don't have a lot of economic means, are giving up work at times when they need those wages."

Following the ruling, Erik Nyquist with National Right to Life released this statement saying, "Judge Lee Yeakel's decision today harms women when it leaves them with substandard treatment. The fact some clinics would have stayed open under the new standards indicates the requirements are attainable. The fact some would have closed should give everyone concern."

Attorney General Greg Abbott has appealed the ruling to the Fifth Circuit court of Appeals in New Orleans.