In a court order issued Thursday, U.S. Judge Lee Yeakel has placed a short-term halt on an upcoming Texas law that would have banned women from accessing dilation and evacuation, or D&E abortion, considered the safest and most common method during the second trimester (around 15 weeks of pregnancy) by health professionals.
The rule, originally scheduled to take effect this Friday, Sept. 1, is part of the Texas Lege’s package anti-choice law Senate Bill 8, deemed a cruel and unnecessary omnibus bill by reproductive health advocates.
The temporary block is a victory for Texas abortion providers, including Austin’s Whole Woman’s Health, who filed suit against the law and especially for young, low-income and rural women, most affected by harsh abortion regulations. Attorneys with both the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Attorney General’s office presented arguments in Austin-based federal court on Tuesday, Aug. 29. CRR said the ban would inflict irreparable harm on women by blocking their constitutionally-protected right to an abortion and subject women to “medical experimentation” as the three alternatives to D&E pose greater risk, while the state offered little concrete evidence the law actually does anything to help women’s safety instead relying on "respecting the life of the unborn," as an argument in lieu of protecting women's health.
Yeakel found CRR's arguments to have a high likelihood of success when further argued. The state, he wrote, cannot "pursue its interests in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable." In a 17-page ruling, Yeakel wrote that the law leaves women and their physicians 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." It serves the public interest to preserve the status quo to prevent harm to women and abortion providers, concluded Yeakel.
The temporary restraining order on the ban expires Sept. 14, at which point a preliminary injunction hearing is set to take place in Austin-based federal court.
To read the full ruling, click here.
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