Overturning Roe v. Wade is one of the right’s biggest policy goals. Fortunately, they haven’t been able to accomplish that yet. However, they are working tirelessly to impose as many limits and restrictions on abortion access as they can. One state which has particularly strict regulations regarding abortion is Texas. The state legislature recently passed a law banning a common second-trimester procedure known as dilation and evacuation. Those in the medical community say that the procedure is safe and rarely results in complications. That law has now been blocked by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel.
Yeakel issued a temporary injunction against the state’s implementation of the law while he hears arguments regarding the constitutionality of the ban. The judge has set a hearing for September 14th where he will hear arguments from abortion rights groups which challenged the law and the state of Texas which will defend it.
‘The court concludes that plaintiffs have established that absent a temporary restraining order they will suffer irreparable harm by being unable to access the most commonly used and safest previability-second-trimester-abortion procedure ahead of any substantial constitutional review of the act.’
He also wrote that “it is in the public interest to preserve the status quo and give the parties ample opportunity to develop the record regarding the constitutional questions raised without subjecting plaintiffs or the public to any of the act’s potential harms.”
In a statement, the organization Texas Right to Life urged his fellow anti-choice conservatives not to despair because this ruling was only the first step in their battle.
‘The abortion clinic lawyers are attempting to frame this lawsuit on how SB 8 will affect Texas women and the abortion industry, however the important question before the court is whether this type of procedure is something Texas has the right to prohibit.
‘While some Pro-Lifers may be tempted to despair at today’s ruling, this is the first step in a longer and consequential legal battle over this dynamic and historic legislation.’
Variants of this law have been passed in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. In four of the five cases, those laws have been blocked by the courts. The case in Arkansas has not been decided. We don’t know how Yeakel will rule in this case but, generally, judges try to follow existing precedent and avoid creating a patchwork of rulings regarding the same laws. However, that is more of a guideline than an actual rule. Such conflicting legal opinions are one of the reasons that cases will get heard by the Supreme Court.
The Texas law was written in response to a 2016 Supreme Court ruling which overturned a 2013 Texas law. That particular law required abortion clinics to maintain hospital-level standards and mandated that doctors at abortion clinics have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Despite the law being overturned, it led to the closure of more than half of the state’s abortion providers. In 2012 there were 41 clinics which provided abortion services. Currently, there are about 20 abortion clinics throughout the state of Texas.
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