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The Brief: Texas is back in court today over its abortion policies

The legal debate continues today over Texas' abortion policies — and this time, it's over new state restrictions on the most common second-trimester abortion procedure.

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What you need to know

Texas abortion providers are in Austin today, trying to block portions of a new state law restricting the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. Here's what you need to know

• What's at issue? The Texas Legislature this year passed Senate Bill 8, one section of which bans dilation and evacuation abortions — a procedure medical professionals have dubbed as the safest way to perform a second-trimester abortion — unless the fetus is deceased. Anti-abortion groups said the ban protects women's health and safety, while abortion rights advocates argued it did the opposite. In July, the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood led the charge on a lawsuit against the state over the ban.

• U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel temporarily blocked SB 8 before it could go into effect. Without a restraining order on the measure, Yeakel wrote in his decision, women and their doctors would be left "with abortion procedures that are more complex, risky, expensive, difficult for many women to arrange, and often involve multi-day visits to physicians, and overnight hospital stays." After the ruling, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office said the state would continue "to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn." 

• There's a broader abortion policies debate at play here. The lawsuit over SB 8 is the third time in less than a year Texas has been in federal court to defend its abortion policies. A federal judge in January blocked a rule requiring health providers to bury or cremate fetuses and ruled in February that Texas can't kick Planned Parenthood-affiliated clinics out of the state's Medicaid program.

Arguments begin at 9 this morning in Yeakel's Austin courtroom and are expected to last several days. Follow Texas Tribune reporter Shannon Najmabadi for updates. 

Tribune today

• After Hurricane Harvey, buyouts may not be the answer for folks in Harris County whose homes have been frequently flooded. 

• Could the historic Alamo end up in foreign hands?  

• Texas voters overwhelmingly backed creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas a decade ago. We talked with current CEO Wayne Roberts, who questioned the viability of the group if state funding isn't renewed. 

• Two Russian-linked Facebook groups organized dueling rallies last year outside an Islamic center in Houston. 

• Did you miss this week's TribCast? Catch up here — we talked about state Rep. Dawnna Dukes' dropped charges and more. 

• President Trump tapped Ryan Patrick, a former state district judge and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's son, to be the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas.  

• A working group of the Texas House GOP Caucus has recommended it get an opportunity to coalesce behind a speaker candidate before a vote on the floor. 

Pencil us in

Join us in Lubbock for a conversation with GOP state lawmakers Sen. Charles Perry and Reps. Dustin Burrows and John Frullo on Nov. 3.  

Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith is interviewing state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, at The Austin Club on Nov. 7. 

What we're reading

• The company that manufactures bump stocks is partially resuming sales one month after the Las Vegas shooting. (The Huffington Post)

• The 19-year-old accused of killing a Texas Tech police officer in October has been charged with capital murder. (Lubbock Avalanche-Journal)

• By The Houston Chronicle's ($) count, 73 federal and two state lawsuits have been filed on behalf of around 850 Houston homeowners and businesses damaged by Harvey's floods. Those numbers are expected to rise. 

• The first legal marijuana is being planted in Texas. (The Austin American-Statesman $)

• Is the GOP's delayed tax reform rollout a minor hiccup or a sign of problems to come? (The Dallas Morning News $)

Quote to note

"People were brought together to foment conflict, and Facebook enabled that event to happen." 

— U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, referring to Facebook ads unveiled during a Senate committee hearing Wednesday that showed Russians pitting Texans against each other.  

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Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors is available here.

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