A federal judge has struck down a new Texas law that would have limited a woman’s access to a second-trimester abortion procedure.
Whole Woman’s Health filed a lawsuit against the state’s Senate Bill 8, which lawmakers passed in the 85th legislative session, and a federal judge issued a temporary injunction in August blocking the law from going into effect until after a trial, which was at the beginning of this month.
Abortion providers argued the law banned “dismemberment abortions,” which would effectively prevent them from performing dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions. This is a procedure that doctors use on second-trimester pregnancies, which is typically after 15 weeks.
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, medical director at Whole Woman’s Health, told the court the state’s requirement under the law for fetal demise, or for a death of a fetus in the uterus, prior to the D&E abortion would be an added step without any benefit to the patient.
In U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s ruling, he states the standard D&E procedure “is a safe alternative abortion procedure to the banned D&X or partial-birth abortion procedure.” Yeakel also wrote the law “does not further the health of the woman before the fetus is viable.”
“It is heartbreaking that unborn children in Texas can still be torn apart limb by limb,” said Nicole Hudgens with Texas Values. “This case is far from over as the federal appeal court often reverses Austin federal judges on these issues.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton says the state has already filed for the case to be heard by United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. “Abortion by dismemberment kills fetuses by tearing them limb from limb while they are still alive, causing the unborn victim to bleed to death,” said Paxton in a statement. “The U.S. Supreme Court holds that states have an interest in protecting and fostering respect for human life, including unborn life.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive rights in the United States, there are eight states with laws like this.
The Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood are served as co-counsel to Whole Woman’s Health in the trial. Whole Woman’s Health Founder & CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller called Judge Yeakel’s ruling a “strong decision” during a phone interview and said it’s quite possible the case could end up in the Supreme Court.
“Thankfully, I’ve been down that road already,” Hagstrom Miller said. “I know what to expect and my team knows what to expect and we’re prepared to be in it for the long haul.”