Federal Judge Rules Texas Abortion Limits Unconstitutional
A federal judge has declared a parts of a new law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals unconstitutional.
Judge Lee Yeakel of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin declared Monday that “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.” He also wrote that the provision would violate the right of doctors to do what they feel is best for their patients.
The ruling came after lawyers for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health organizations brought a lawsuit against abortion measures passed in June that would have taken effect Tuesday, resulting in the closure of a third of clinics in Texas that provide abortion procedures. During trial, officials with a number of abortion clinics testified that they’d tried to obtain admitting privileges for their doctors at 32 hospitals, only 15 of which accepted their applications. Religious hospitals across the state will not employ doctors who perform abortions, and many other hospitals fear protest and public backlash if they grant the required privileges.
Yeakel also blocked a provision requiring doctors to follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration protocol when prescribing an abortion-inducing medication, declaring that the measure would interfere with a doctor’s ability to adjust treatment in order to protect the health of patients taking it.
Governor Rick Perry quickly responded to Yeakel’s decision with a written statement in which he vowed to “continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans.”