The Corner

Two Texas Abortion Restrictions Overturned By Federal Court, 20-Week Ban Unaffected

A federal judge ruled that some of Texas’s abortion restrictions recently signed into law by Governor Rick Perry are unconstitutional, and enforcement of the measures has been blocked. The ban on abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy, which hasn’t been challenged, will still go ahead.

Judge Lee Yeakel wrote in his decision that requiring that doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals constitutes an “undue burden” on women seeking abortion and doesn’t bear a “rational relationship” to the state’s right to regulate such practices. Yeakel also overturned a section of the law demanding that doctors administer abortion medications only as the original FDA label instructs, arguing that this would limit doctors from prescribing based on recent medical discoveries and the most up-to-date practices.

The law was originally passed in a special session of the Texas state legislature — Wendy Davis’s high-profile eleven-hour filibuster contesting the law helped prevent the law from being passed during one legislative session, thus tabling the bill, but Governor Rick Perry called another special legislative session that allowed the bill to pass.

After the passage of the bill, lawyers from several abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood, filed a lawsuit, contending in particular that the admitting-privileges requirement would effectively force the closure of one-third of abortion clinics in Texas.

Governor Rick Perry has vowed to fight the decision. “Today’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,” Perry said. “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.”

The lawsuit did not contest the parts of the law that banned abortions after 20 weeks and required that all abortions be performed in a surgical facility, and these two restrictions still stand.

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