A critical decision in the ongoing legal battle on abortion was handed down Monday. The ruling found that provisions in a law passed by the Texas Legislature, House Bill 2, were unconstitutional due to conflicts with a doctor's right to treat their patients as per his/her medical expertise and that it unreasonably restricted one's access to an abortion.
The judgement was given Monday by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel:
"Today there is no issue that divides the people of this country more than abortion. It is the most divisive issue to face this country since slavery...Having carefully considered the parties' briefing, stipulations, exhibits, trial testimony, arguments of counsel,and the applicable law, the court concludes: (1) 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, and (2) the act's provisions that place restrictions on medication abortions do not place such an obstacle, except when a physician finds such an abortion necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. In so deciding, the court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law."
The defendants, led by Texas Attorney General Gregory Abbott, argued the law protected women and the life of the fetus. It would have required doctors who administer the procedure to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of the clinic and that 'Plan B' pills adhere to stricter regulations, among other stipulations. If the law had passed judicial review, only 5 of the existing 42 abortion clinics in the state would have remained open.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who supported HB 2's passage, released a statement:
"Today's decision will not stop our ongoing efforts to protect life and ensure the women of our state aren't exposed to any more of the abortion-mill horror stories that have made headlines recently. We will continue fighting to implement the laws passed by the duly-elected officials of our state, laws that reflect the will and values of Texans."
State Senator Wendy Davis held up the controversial legislation earlier this year with a 13-hour long filibuster. In a statement, also released Monday, Davis said she wasn't surprised' the bill was ruled unconstitutional:
"I’m not surprised by the judge’s ruling. As a mother, I would rather see our tax dollars spent on improving our kids' schools than defending this law."
The decision will likely be appealed to the 5th Circuit shortly. Meanwhile, advocacy groups on both sides of the issue have been taking to social media to celebrate or voice their disapproval.
Image credit: Texas Tribune