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THURSDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Thursday an anti-abortion bill considered one of the most restrictive in the country.
The law bans abortions after 20 weeks, holds abortion clinics to the same standards as surgical centers and requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals.
Five of Texas' 42 abortion clinics currently meet the new requirements, the Associated Press reported.
The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in a highly charged atmosphere after heated debate. A previous version of the bill failed in June after an 11-hour filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth.
After the first bill failed to pass, Perry, a Republican, called a special session of the Legislature on July 1 to reconsider the measure. Following passage of the bill, Perry said, "Today, the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life."
Backers of the law say it will ensure quality health care for women and fetuses, the AP reported.
Texas medical groups and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have opposed the legislation. In a July 2 statement, ACOG said the effort was "plainly intended to restrict the reproductive rights of women in Texas through a series of requirements that improperly regulate medical practice and interfere with the patient-physician relationship."
Democratic legislators said they would continue to oppose the law, with a court challenge the likely next step. Federal judges have blocked enforcement of similar law in other states, questioning their constitutionality, the AP reported.
For more on abortion, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.