Federal Judge Blocks Texas Anti-Abortion Law

The restriction was scheduled to take effect on Friday however, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel granted a two-week restraining order on Thursday after opponents showed a "substantial likelihood of success", The New York Times reported.

Whole Woman's Health - which won a landmark case in the U.S. Supreme Court past year striking down parts of another Texas anti-abortion law - claims that the ban on D&E threatens the health of their patients, impedes patients' access to abortion care, and violates their constitutional rights.

In Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court ruled that restrictions on legal abortion can not unduly burden a woman without providing a legitimate medical benefit.

"All of us at Whole Woman's Health will continue to resist and fight against any laws that undermine women's equality and compromise our ability to make healthcare decisions".

SB 8 refers to D&E procedures with the non-medical term "dismemberment abortion".

It's a fast, outpatient procedure.

The new legislation requires doctors to first stop the fetus's heart, either by severing the umbilical cord or injecting chemicals, before performing the abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D&E). Multiple medical organizations have come out against SB 8, since it encourages women to undergo unsafe procedures, ones that go against a doctor's best medical judgement.

Texas has argued that physicians can still perform D&E procedure, provided that they cause "fetal demise" in utero before starting the evacuating phase of the procedure, and that there are at least "three safe and effective methods of inducing fetal demise". In 2013, WWH sued the state over House Bill 2, a sweeping anti-abortion legislation that used onerous building regulations and other unnecessary legal hurdles to shut down more than half of the abortion clinics in Texas. The judge found that the state's arguments to prevent the restraining order unpersuasive and to possess a "thin record".

With it in place, Texas doctors and health care providers can continue using the dilation and evacuation procedure - deemed the safest by medical professionals for second-trimester abortions - until a more permanent decision is made by the court.

"Dismemberment abortions are gruesome and inhumane, which makes it troubling that a district court would block Texas' lawful authority to protect the life of unborn children from such a barbaric practice", said Marc Rylander, Paxton's spokesman.

Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton went to hearing at Austin's federal courthouse on Tuesday to defend a legislation that would ban dismemberment abortions. He concluded that "it is in the public to preserve the status quo" while the case is being prepared, so as to protect "plaintiffs or the public (from) any of the act's potential harms".

Yeakel expects the state to appeal, and has set a September 14 hearing date to entertain further arguments from both sides on the merits of continuing or ending the injunction.

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