Judge Halts New Texas Anti-Abortion Law, for Now

Texas heads to court to defend ban on dismemberment abortions

Texas heads to court to defend ban on dismemberment abortions

A federal judge has temporarily stopped Texas officials from enforcing a ban on the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, just one day before the ban was set to go into effect.

Though the court's decision Thursday offers a temporary respite to reproductive rights groups, it's the latest in a series of legislative and legal challenges to abortion access in the state.

U.S. District Judge Earl Lee Yeakel III passed the order, following similar recent bans on tightened abortion regulations in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, according to NBC News.

"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 hard", Yvonne Gutierrez, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a statement.

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.

In Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on legal abortion can not unduly burden a woman without providing a legitimate medical benefit.

Texas leaders are ready to defend the law - and unborn babies' lives - all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

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Yeakel also quibbled with the word, "dismemberment", saying it was a "non-medical" term. As the cervical opening is smaller than the fetus at this stage of pregnancy, separation of the fetal tissue usually occurs as the doctor removes it. The only other alternative to a D&E procedure during the second trimester is induction abortion, where a doctor uses medication to induce labor and delivery of a nonviable fetus. Multiple medical organizations have come out against SB 8, since it encourages women to undergo risky procedures, ones that go against a doctor's best medical judgement.

The judge wrote that Planned Parenthood and the other plaintiffs satisfied a requirement for the temporary injunction showing that "threatened injury to the Plaintiffs outweighs any damage that the temporary restraining order might cause the State".

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".

"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", Yeakel wrote.

The temporary restraining order expires September 14, when the parties will return to court for a preliminary injunction hearing.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said they will continue to defend the law in court, and many have strong hopes that Senate Bill 8 eventually will be upheld as constitutional.

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