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U.S. judge strikes down Texas law to limit second-trimester abortions

Reuters logo Reuters 11/22/2017 By Jon Herskovitz
In this July 13, 2013 file photo, abortion rights advocates, left, protest in the State Capitol as anti-abortion rights supporters pass them in Austin, Texas. © AP Photo/Tamir Kalifa File In this July 13, 2013 file photo, abortion rights advocates, left, protest in the State Capitol as anti-abortion rights supporters pass them in Austin, Texas.

AUSTIN, Texas - A U.S. district judge in Austin on Wednesday struck down parts of a Texas law that would restrict the most common type of second-trimester abortions in the state, after plaintiffs argued the procedure was safe, legal and necessary for women's health.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a permanent injunction against the provisions that were in legislation known as Senate Bill 8 (SB 8) and set to take effect this year, saying they "are facially unconstitutional." He added: "The act intervenes in the medical process of abortion prior to viability in an unduly burdensome manner."

Texas, the most-populous Republican-controlled state, has been at the forefront of trying to impose abortion restrictions. In recent years, it has seen its legislation struck down by federal courts that have often said the measures are unconstitutional because they place an undue burden on women and do not promote public health.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he would appeal the decision, adding SB 8 was lawful and protected "unborn human life from ghastly dismemberment abortions."

The second-trimester procedure known as "dilation and evacuation" is used in about 8 or 9 percent of abortions, while nearly 90 percent of abortions are performed in the first trimester, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

“This is a huge win for Texas women and families,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. 

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