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State District Court Rules Abortion Law Unconstitutional, But Leaves 'Near-Total Ban' In Place

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - A Texas judge has ruled the enforcement scheme behind the nation's strictest abortion law is unconstitutional in a narrow ruling that still leaves a near-total ban on abortions in place.

State District Judge David Peeples of Austin on Thursday side-stepped the broader legality of the Texas law known as Senate Bill 8.

The law bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before some women know they are even pregnant.

Judge Peeples' ruling is based on the civil enforcement procedures, which the order notes "are completely new, there is not a single factual precedent for this court to consult - from Texas or from the rest of the United States, from founding until now."

The court agreed with the Plaintiffs' contention that the bill's "grant of standing for 'any person' to seek $10,000 and a mandatory injunction without showing harm violates the Texas Constitution's 'open courts' provision."

It also agreed that the law violates the right to due process "guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment."

Finally, the court found that the delegation of enforcement power to private persons is an "unlawful delegation of enforcement power... that violates the Texas Constitution."

Planned Parenthood celebrated the ruling but said abortion services still remain "virtually inaccessible" in Texas.

The case is pending appeal and a ruling from the US Supreme Court.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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