A federal judge in Texas ruled Monday that a key provision of the state's restrictive new abortion law is unconstitutional.
NBC News reports US District Judge Lee Yeakel found regulations requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals violated their right to do what they determine is the best interest of patients. Yeakel ruled that such regulation unreasonably limits women's access to state abortion facilities.
"The admitting privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health, and in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her," Yeakel's decision stated.
The New York Timesreports Yeakel's ruling comes just one day before the new law was set to go into effect, preventing a "major disruption" of abortion services in Texas.
Yeakel partially upheld a measure requiring doctors to use a specific drug protocol in non-surgical, medication-induced abortions, a protocol deemed outdated and excessively restrictive by many physicians.
Two other controversial parts of the law, a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and a requirement that doctors perform abortions in surgical facilities beginning next year, are still scheduled to go into effect.
The ruling marks a defeat for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, who signed the contested legislation into law in July. Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis, who is now running for governor, made international headlines when she staged an epic 11-hour filibuster against the law in the GOP-controlled legislature.
Davis was "not surprised by the judge's ruling," according to a statement released by the senator.
Gov. Perry released a statement vowing he "will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion mill horror stories that have made headlines recently."
"We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans," Perry's statement added.
The state attorney general's office, which argued that the law's restrictions were meant to protect women and the lives of unborn fetuses, is likely to appeal Yeakel's decision.