AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A federal judge enjoined parts a Texas law restricting abortion Monday, saying Texas couldn't cite a legitimate health concern for new restrictions on doctors.
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel announced his decision the day before the law, one of the most restrictive in the nation, was to go into effect.
Yeakel, appointed by President George W. Bush, predicted during the hearing last week no matter his decision, the losing side would appeal and the matter could be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, The Dallas Morning News reported.
Yeakel said the state could not persuasively cite a health concern when it placed two new restrictions on doctors performing abortions and the state didn't have a right to place a "substantial obstacle" to women seeking abortions.
The state law mandates doctors performing abortions maintain admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their practice and follow Federal Drug Administration protocols approved in 2000 concerning abortion pills.
"The court may not and will not decide whether there should be abortions in Texas," Yeakel said in his opinion in which he called abortion the "most divisive issue" since slavery. "This court is charged only with determining whether certain provisions of House Bill 2 are consistent with the Constitution of the United States under existing Supreme Court precedent.
Abortion rights advocates said Texas was using a back-door method to close abortion clinics by counting on hospitals to deny doctors admitting privileges, the News said. Abortion providers testified eight doctors had applied for but not received privileges from 32 hospitals so far.
Testimony also showed FDA protocols for abortion pills no longer were the best practice used by most doctors, the News said. The protocols have been refined through clinical tests and the newer method is cheaper, requires lower dosages and has fewer side-effects, testimony indicated.
State attorneys argued Texas lawmakers have the right to impose restrictions to protect the life of a fetus and raise standards for women's health.
Not included in the appeal were two other provisions of the law, passed in July after a marathon filibuster by gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis, a Democrat from Fort Worth, the News said.
One provision is a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy unless the woman's health is in jeopardy or there is evidence of severe fetal abnormality, the News said. The other, expected to go into effect next year, would raise standards for abortion clinics to those of surgical centers.