A federal district judge handed a victory to abortion rights groups Wednesday when he struck down part of a Texas law curbing access to the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, called dilation and evacuation. Senate Bill 8 was slated to become a law after it was signed by Governor Greg Abbott.
Yeakel ruled in favor of Planned Parenthood, the organization that brought the case against the state. Yeakel temporarily blocked the law in August, the day before it was set to go into effect, simply arguing that abortions in the US are legal.
The temporary restraining order was set to expire Wednesday evening. He also addresses the state's use of graphic images and language about the D&E procedure to influence his decision - a tactic mastered by anti-abortion advocates. And laws like this one place an undue burden on a woman's right to abortion.
He added: "The act is an inappropriate use of the state's regulatory power over the medical profession to bar certain medical procedures and substitute others in furtherance of the state's legitimate interest in regulating the medical profession in order to promote respect for the life of the unborn". Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted most of a sweeping, anti-abortion law approved in Texas in 2013 which helped force the closure of more than half of the state's abortion clinics.
Whole Woman's Health, a Texas reproductive health provider and abortion rights group, was the lead plaintiff in this case.
"[The state has] a hard road here", Crepps said.
Doctors who have provided abortions described three methods for causing fetal demise that are used starting about midway through the second trimester.
"I would say that the question before this court is quite simple, and it is: Can Texas require that a fully-formed and almost viable unborn child be accorded a more humane manner of death?"
While doctors testifying for the plaintiffs said using injection methods to stop the fetus's heart requires specialized training and skill, the state argued the techniques would be easy to learn. SB 8 was a product of the recent Texas legislative session. They said using injection methods later in pregnancy when the fetus is larger is safe for women, but not during dilation and evacuation abortions.
Disclosure: Planned Parenthood has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune.