U.S District Judge Lee Yeakel, an appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, Monday struck down parts of Texas new abortion law scheduled to take effect October 29. Agreeing with abortion-rights activists U.S District Judge Yeakel said that the requirement that doctors performing abortions must have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic, placed an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortions and did not make the process safer which the state officials had argued.
“The admitting privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the State in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her,” U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in the opinion.
The federal judge also partially struck down the medical abortion ban that restricts the use of abortion pills, saying doctors can disregard state mandates to protect a patient’s health.
“Although the medication abortion provisions do not generally place an undue burden on a woman seeking an abortion, they do if they ban a medication abortion where a physician determines, in appropriate medical judgment, such a procedure is necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.”, he wrote in his opinion.
The part of the abortion law that prohibits doctors from performing abortions after 20 weeks, except when the woman’s life is in danger or in cases of severe fetal abnormalities, was not challenged in court and took effect on October 29, so also the requirement that a doctor’s office or clinic that perform more than 50 abortions a year must meet standards established for outpatient surgical centers.
The abortion law, which activists on both sides predict will end up before the U.S Supreme Court, was passed by the Texas Legislature in July and gained national attention when Fort Worth state senator, and Democratic candidate for Texas governor Wendy Davis, staged a dramatic 11-hour filibuster of the Republican bill. The bill later passed in a special session and was signed into law by Governor Perry.
“Today’s decision (U.S District Judge Yeakel’s decision) will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren’t exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently”, Governor Rick Perry said in a statement. “We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans”.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican candidate for Texas governor, Tuesday filed a motion appealing the judge’s decision and asking the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to issue an emergency stay to allow full enforcement of House Bill 2.
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