Texas's attempt to expand licensing requirements for doctors and clinics that provide abortions has been blocked by a federal judge.
The law, which took effect Sept. 1, requires a doctor's office to be licensed as an abortion provider if the physician performs more than 300 abortions a year. It also increases the criminal liability of doctors who operate abortion clinics without a license.
U.S. District Judge John Rainey in Houston issued a temporary injunction Wednesday to prevent the state from enforcing the licensing requirements.
Medical clinics in Houston, Denton and Austin and five doctors challenged the law in October.
Rainey said because the Abortion Facility Reporting and Licensing Act sets physicians who perform abortions apart from those who perform other outpatient surgeries, it violates their right to equal protection under the Constitution.
The law "was obviously an attempt to color the procedure as more dangerous than it is and force doctors to not do this unless it's their full-time job," said Kae McLaughlin, executive director of Texas Abortion Rights and Reproductive Rights Action League.
Before Sept. 1, state law exempted physicians from licensing requirements if abortions did not constitute the majority of their practice.
The Texas attorney general's office has not said whether it will appeal.
Bill Price of Texans United for Life said the law is meant to make abortion safer.
"These places are really in the pursuit of the dollar, not the pursuit of helping women," Price said.