Federal Judge Blocks Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban

Posted: Sep 01, 2017 7:30 AM
Federal Judge Blocks Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a temporary injunction Thursday against a law, recently signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, banning some “dilation and evacuation” second trimester abortions. The law would’ve taken effect Friday.

The legislation specifically prohibited the performance of abortion procedures that extract “the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slices, crushes, or grasps, or performs any combination of those actions on, a piece of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip the piece from the body.”

Planned Parenthood sued, arguing that the law amounted to an abortion ban after 15 weeks for some women and that D&E abortions were one of the safest abortion procedures for women.

The also objected to calling these procedures “dismemberment” abortions, arguing it was a “non-medical” term.

"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," Judge Yeakel wrote in his decision.

He added 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."

"This decision is a victory for Texas women, and especially for people of color, those with low-incomes, and rural Texans for whom accessing care is even more difficult," Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a statement. "Extreme politicians have chipped away at access to abortion step by step, method by method."

Texas Right to Life said Thursday that "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."

“The abortion industry disingenuously argued in court that the Dismemberment Abortion Ban raises an undue burden for women seeking second trimester abortions by banning all D&E abortions,” they emphasize. “ In filings and in court, the Texas Attorney General’s office powerfully argued SB 8 clearly only prohibits one specific type of D&E abortion, which the state Legislature defined as ‘Dismemberment Abortions.’”

“In the hearing over the temporary restraining order earlier this week,” they add, “the attorney for the state opened his comments in court clarifying, ‘SB 8 is designed to do one thing: stop the brutal and gruesome procedure of living dismemberment abortions.’”

"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," the organization concluded.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will likely appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

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