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Federal judge blocks Texas abortion law
02 September 2017, 12:50 | Lowell Little
Federal judge blocks Texas from enforcing new abortion restrictions
Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the newly passed Senate Bill 8, dubbed the Pro-Life Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which criminalizes killing a preborn child by pulling him or her apart limb by limb in the womb. "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'".
Women's health groups say that Texas abortion law is already so restrictive that it forces more women to seek the procedure during the second trimester instead of earlier.
Whole Woman's Health - which won a landmark case in the U.S. Supreme Court past year striking down parts of another Texas anti-abortion law - claims that the ban on D&E threatens the health of their patients, impedes patients' access to abortion care, and violates their constitutional rights.
The hearing was attended by leaders with Texas Right to Life, who explained: "The abortion industry disingenuously argued in court that the Dismemberment Abortion Ban raises an undue burden to women seeking second trimester abortions by banning all D&E abortions".
An exam room at ChoiceWorks, formerly Whole Woman's Health Clinic, on June 27, 2016, the day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of HB 2 restricting women's access to abortions in Texas. For example, the identification of major fetal anomalies most commonly occurs in the second trimester, and women may choose to terminate a pregnancy for that reason.
It's a fast, outpatient procedure. Multiple medical organizations have come out against SB 8, since it encourages women to undergo unsafe procedures, ones that go against a doctor's best medical judgement. They argue that dilation and evacuation is the safest procedure and is performed before the fetus is viable.
He also argued that women would "suffer irreparable harm by being unable to access the most commonly used and safest previability-second-trimester-abortion procedure", which dismembers their unborn babies, the AP reports.
"Dismemberment abortions are gruesome and inhumane, which makes it troubling that a district court would block Texas' lawful authority to protect the life of unborn children from such a barbaric practice", a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.
"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", the judge said.
The ban is on hold until September 14, when Yaekel scheduled a hearing to consider a preliminary injunction. The U.S. Supreme Court last summer threw out provisions of state law that required abortion clinic facilities meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and require their physicians to gain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.
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