Federal Judge Blocks Texas Dismemberment Abortion Ban

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to continue defending the anti-choice law. Gabriella Demczuk  Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton vowed to continue defending the anti-choice law. Gabriella Demczuk Getty Images

The order by Austin-based U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel stops Texas from banning a commonly used second trimester abortion procedure, known as dilation and evacuation, which abortion providers say rarely results in complications. In his ruling, he wrote that the law "leaves that woman and her physician with abortion procedures that are more complex, risky, expensive, hard for many women to arrange, and often involve multi-day visits to physicians, and overnight hospital stays".

Senate Bill 8, which passed during the 2017 regular legislative session, banned dilation and evacuation abortions - where doctors use surgical instruments to grasp and remove pieces of fetal tissue - unless the fetus is deceased.

"This court finds no authority for holding that government-mandated medically unnecessary, untested, or a more invasive procedure, or a more complicated and risky procedure with no proven medical benefits over the safe and commonly used banned procedure, is a permissible means of regulating previability abortions", Yeakel said.

As more and more states attempt to pass strict anti-abortion legislation, organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have worked to stop those bills from materializing. Texas Right to Life is thankful to Attorney General Ken Paxton and his expert team who have stated their dedication to defending the Dismemberment Abortion Ban to the highest court necessary.

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

"Judge Yeakel's granting of the TRO today is expected given his past of ruling against Pro-Life legislation", the group continued.

After the ruling Thursday, Texas Right to Life issued a statement urging pro-life advocates not to despair.

Similar rules requiring the burial of fetal remains, adopted by the Texas Department of State Health Services in November, were blocked by a federal judge in January.

According to the provider's complaint, a significant number of women in Texas seek abortions between 14 and 22 weeks into their pregnancy, for a variety of personal and medical reasons.

The legislation received strong support in the Texas legislature, and Gov. Greg Abbott signed it into law in June.

"In the hearing over the temporary restraining order earlier this week", they add, "the attorney for the state opened his comments in court clarifying, 'SB 8 is created to do one thing: stop the brutal and gruesome procedure of living dismemberment abortions'".

U.S. Supreme Court ruling Gonzales v Carhart (2007) affirmed that states have a "compelling interest" in maintaining ethical medical practices and in protecting preborn children. Other states that have implemented the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act were Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Paxton's lawyer, Darren McCarty, argued that the law would not ban D&E, noting that it merely requires doctors to ensure "fetal demise" before beginning the procedure.

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