In The Courts

Try again, Texas: Controversial abortion law deemed unconstitutional by federal judge

Try again, Texas: Controversial abortion law deemed unconstitutional

Abortion rally protestors march by Capitol
Protestors took to the streets in Austin this summer. Photo by Jon Shapley
Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters an abortion bill at the Texas Capitol
State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) filbustered the abortion bill for 11 hours, forcing the Texas Legislature into another special session. Photo by Tom Reel
Cecile Richards at abortion rally in Texas
Cecile Richards at a pro-choice rally in Texas. Cecile Richards / Twitter
Abortion rally protestors march by Capitol
Sen. Wendy Davis filibusters an abortion bill at the Texas Capitol
Cecile Richards at abortion rally in Texas

Three months after the Texas Legislature passed new abortion restrictions, a federal judge has ruled them unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's Monday decision comes one day before the controversial law was scheduled to go into effect.

The ruling states that it is unconstitutional to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals because it places an undue burden on women pursuing an abortion.

 Yeakel did uphold one portion of the Texas law pertaining to medical abortions. 

"The act's admitting privileges provision is without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus," Yeakel wrote in a 26-page ruling.

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and others in the wake of abortion bill's passage in July. The bill, as you may recall, was famously filibustered by State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), forcing the Legislature into another special session. Davis has since announced plans to run for governor.

Yeakel did uphold one portion of the Texas law pertaining to medical abortions. House Bill 2 restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs to the formula recommended by the FDA. The FDA protocol has higher dosages, more doctor visits and thus a higher cost than the widely used "off-label protocol" developed through clinical trials. Yeakel sided with the Texas Legislature and said Planned Parenthood didn't prove the FDA formula was unduly burdensome. 

Yeakel's ruling did not address the portions of the law that stipulate abortions can only take place in surgical centers and bans the procedure altogether after 20 weeks. There's no word yet on what Abbott and others in the Texas Legislature plan to do in response, though an appeal seems likely. 

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