Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Law

Was supposed to go into effect on Tuesday

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Tamir Kalifa / AP

Abortion rights supporters rally on the floor of the State Capitol rotunda in Austin, Texas, July 12, 2013.

A federal judge blocked part of Texas’ tough new abortion law as unconstitutional on Monday, just hours before it was set to go into effect.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel made the decision after hearing three days of testimony about the law, among the toughest anti-abortion measures in the country, the Associated Press reports. Among other things, the law would require doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, cut back on where and when women can take pills that induce abortions, and block abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Yeakel ruled the law would violate the rights of patients to access abortion and of doctors to do what’s best for their patients. The state is likely to file an emergency appeal.

Lawyers for Texas abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, argued that the new law would shut down a third of abortion clinics in the entire state, and that it did not have women’s best interests in mind. The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican candidate for governor, said the law would protect both women and unborn fetuses from harm.

The law was fiercely protested by Democrats before its passage in July, and a long filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis temporarily blocked passage of the bill and vaulted her to liberal stardom. She is now running for governor against Abbott.