Judge Strikes Down Key Provision of Texas Anti-Choice Law

Ruling overturns sweeping cuts to abortion access but leaves restrictions on medical abortions in place

In what reproductive justice advocates are hailing as a partial victory, a federal court struck down Monday a provision of the controversial Texas HB 2 anti-choice law that would have made abortion inaccessible for a third of all Texas women.

Yet the ruling upheld the bill's provision for reduced access to medical abortions.

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel threw out the requirement that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a local hospital--a provision that would have drastically cut access and was set to be implemented October 29.

The judge ruled the provision unconstitutional because it "places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her," the Washington Postreports.

However, the judge did not block provisions in the bill that drastically cut access to medication abortions by forcing patients to follow FDA protocol that critics charge flouts best practice established by more recent scientific advances.

The ruling was a response to a lawsuit brought by health care providers represented by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the firm George Brothers Kincaid & Horton.

Reproductive justice advocates declared the ruling a mixed victory, with more gains needed.

"The court was right to strike the admitting privileges provision. It is unconstitutional and it would have shut down women's health centers throughout the state," said Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the ACLU, in a statement from the organization.

"We are disappointed by the ruling on the medication abortion restriction, which ignores accepted medical practice and will force providers to use less safe methods," she added. "But we will continue to fight and explore every option to protect women's health."


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