Observing the plight of women seeking abortion in Texas, a US federal judge on Friday struck down two controversial provisions of a Texas abortion law calling them ‘illegal’. The judge also underlined that both the provisions created an unconstitutional burden on those women who wanted to terminate their pregnancies in the state.
Following a month long trial, US District Judge Lee Yeakel issued the ruling against the two provisions of a Texas abortion law.
Both the provisions made it mandatory for the abortion providers to maintain “the same building requirements as an ambulatory surgical center”.
According to the judge, both the provisions when enforced together were found creating a significant hindrance to the accessibility of abortion services for women seeking to discontinue their pregnancy.
Writing in the 21-page decision, Judge Yeakel said,
“The court concludes that the act’s ambulatory-surgical-center requirements, combined with the already in-effect admitting privileges requirement, creates a brutally effective system of abortion regulation that reduces access to abortion clinics thereby creating a statewide burden for substantial numbers of Texas women.”
Condemning the state lawmakers, the judge also concluded that they enacted the provisions of ambulatory-surgical center requirement in the abortion laws with the intention of forceful closure of the existing licensed abortion clinics in the state.
The judge observed that the inappropriate provisions compelled the closure of half of the state’s 40 abortion clinics.
“Even if the remaining clinics could meet the demand, the court concludes that the practical impact on Texas women due to the clinics’ closure state-wide would operate for a significant number of women in Texas just as drastically as a complete ban on abortion,” the federal judge said.
The federal judge also ruled that the admitting privileges requirement under the abortion law was ‘unconstitutional’ as applicable to two clinics in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican who has emerged as the top contender for the post of governor next year, opposed the ruling and sought an immediate appeal to try to preserve the new clinic rules.
“The State disagrees with the court’s ruling and will seek immediate relief from the Fifth Circuit, which has already upheld HB2 once,” Lauren Bean, Abbott spokeswoman, said.
Meanwhile, the women’s rights groups welcomed the federal court’s decision, saying it will allow access to safe and legal abortion care for every woman in Texas.
“This trial and today’s decision have stripped away the pretexts of the politicians who passed this law and revealed their true intention to deny Texas women access to safe, legal abortion care,” said Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights president, in a statement.
Northup further said, “The court’s ruling has made clear that well-being of women is not advanced by laws attacking access to essential healthcare and that rights protected by the US Constitution may not be denied through laws that make them impossible to exercise.”
Following this judgement, the abortion clinics which were on the verge of shutting down (more than a dozen) will remain open on Monday.