Texas lawmakers continue to introduce and pass severe abortion restrictions, but a Thursday court ruling offered some news in favor of reproductive rights. U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel blocked a law banning dilation and evacuation, a procedure commonly used in second-trimester abortions.
The law, set to go into effect today, is now on hold for 14 days. Abortion providers challenging it in court argued that it would deny women access to the "the safest and most common" procedure for abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Judge Yeakel agreed, writing in his ruling that the law would cause women to "suffer irreparable harm by being unable to access the most commonly used and safest previability-second-trimester-abortion procedure ahead of any substantial constitutional review of the act."
The federal judge is expected to bring the issue to trial this month, Dallas News reports, as Thursday's injunction is only temporary. However, Attorney General Ken Paxton could appeal the ruling.
In a statement issued by Paxton's office Thursday, the attorney general's communications director said, "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. The Texas Attorney General will continue to defend our state’s legal right to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn."
Abortion rights in Texas were grim before Senate Bill 8, as the state has banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy and authorized a 24-hour waiting period and mandatory counseling for women seeking to end a pregnancy. And just last month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill restricting insurance coverage for abortions.
Once the challenged dilation and evacuation ban goes to trial, its fate should be more clear.