Judge temporarily blocks Texas 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.

Women's health groups say that Texas abortion law is already so restrictive that it forces more women to seek the procedure during the second trimester instead of earlier. The law would've had a devastating impact on low-income women, and could potentially have sent anyone who performed a D&E abortion to prison.

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.

"Today's ruling is the latest victory upholding a woman's right to safe and legal abortion", she said.

Texas leaders are ready to defend the law - and unborn babies' lives - all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

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It's a fast, outpatient procedure.

Texas Right to Life said Thursday that "the abortion clinic lawyers are attempting to frame this lawsuit on how SB 8 will affect Texas women and the abortion industry, however the important question before the court is whether this type of procedure is something Texas has the right to prohibit". This procedure can last hours or days, and is more painful and can be more medically risky for the patient.

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.

An injection of potassium chloride directly into the fetal heart, for example, would cause demise, but would also be fatal to the woman if administered incorrectly.

Furthermore, "causing fetal demise by the State's suggestion of injections of either digoxin or potassium chloride, neither of which is labeled for that objective, would violate Texas law prohibiting off-label prescription of an abortion-inducing drug".

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In the temporary restraining order, Judge Yeakel said Thursday that Texas can not "pursue its interests in a way that denies a woman her constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy before the fetus is viable". The abortionists argued that the measure would outlaw the safest and most used method of second-trimester abortions known as dilation and evacuation or D&E. 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".

"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", it read.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was disappointed by the ruling but remained committed to defending the law in court.

Under Yeakel's ruling, the law was stopped from going into effect until a hearing set for September 14 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin.

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  • Theresa Obrien