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Hearing Opens New Round In Texas Abortion Battle

State of Texas
An abortion law that threw the state Legislature into chaos over the summer is the subject of a court hearing today in Austin.

The Texas attorney general's office says new abortion limits seek to expressly protect fetal life -- not just the safety of the woman terminating a pregnancy.

Advocacy groups have sued in federal court to block as unconstitutional parts of an abortion law that threw the Legislature into chaos over the summer. A judge is hearing arguments in court today in Austin.

The law requires doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals to perform abortions, only allows abortions in surgical centers and bans the procedure after 20 weeks. It also limits medical abortions.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel is being asked today to delay enforcement of the admitting-privileges and medical-abortion rules on constitutional grounds.

But state attorneys said critics mistakenly assert the law was approved to protect only the safety of the mother.

They say it protects unborn life too, without threatening the mother's health.

The law passed after a Democratic filibuster and massive protests on both sides of the issue at the state Capitol.