AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that Texas cannot ban a common second-trimester abortion procedure that Republican-led statehouses across the U.S. have sought to outlaw in recent years.

The law signed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2017 was never enforced and was previously blocked by a federal judge in Austin.

Texas appealed that decision, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the measure “unduly burdens a woman’s constitutionally-protected right.”

Abortion rights groups say the procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, is the safest and most common second-trimester procedure and that eliminating it would force women to choose less-safe options.

The Texas law used the non-medical term “dismemberment abortion” to describe the procedure, in which forceps and other instruments are used to remove the fetus from the womb.

Courts have also blocked similar measures passed by other GOP-controlled statehouses in recent years.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear arguments over a similar Alabama law.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)