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Federal judge rules Texas abortion restrictions unconstitutional

More than a dozen Texas abortion clinics facing forced closure will remain open for the time being, as U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled certain measures in the state's broad anti-abortion bill unconstitutional on Friday.

Abortion clinics sued over the bill's requirement that they be held to hospital-level operating standards, which Yeakel said in his ruling amounted to "substantial obstacles (that) have reached a tipping point." Women are already required to undergo sonograms and a 24-hour waiting period after first requesting an abortion from a Texas clinic, The Associated Press notes.

The state said it would appeal Yeakel's ruling on measures in the bill, known as HB2 and signed into law by Governor Rick Perry (R) in 2013. The number of Texas abortion providers currently stands at 19 — less than half the number of clinics available two years ago. While supporters of HB2 say it merely holds providers to a better standard of care, the shrinking number of clinics able to remain open would require nearly a million women to drive more than three hours to reach a provider.