Three months after the Texas Legislature passed new abortion restrictions, a federal judge has ruled them unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's decision comes one day before the law was scheduled to go into effect.
The October 28 ruling states that it is unconstitutional to require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals because it places an undue burden on women pursuing an abortion.
"The act's admitting privileges provision is without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus," Yeakel wrote in a 26-page ruling.
Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and others in the wake of abortion bill's passage in July. The bill, as you may recall, was famously filibustered by State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), forcing the Legislature into another special session. Davis has since announced plans to run for governor.
Yeakel did uphold one portion of the Texas law pertaining to medical abortions. House Bill 2 restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs to the formula recommended by the FDA. The FDA protocol has higher dosages, more doctor visits and thus a higher cost than the widely used "off-label protocol" developed through clinical trials. Nevertheless, Yeakel sided with the Texas Legislature and said Planned Parenthood didn't prove the FDA formula was unduly burdensome.
Yeakel's ruling did not address the portions of the law that stipulated abortions could only take place in surgical centers and banned the procedure altogether after 20 weeks. There's no word yet on what Abbott and others in the Texas Legislature plan to do in response, though an appeal seems likely.