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Reports of Death of Texas Abortion Law Greatly Exaggerated – UPDATE Appeals Court Reinstates Law

Today, a federal judge ruled that some portions of a Texas pro-life law are unconstitutional – but not the part you’re thinking about.

Unsurprisingly, you may see headlines such as this one from the mainstream media: “Federal judge rules controversial Texas abortion law unconstitutional.”

This is just one more example of the abortion distortion playing itself out in the pro-abortion mainstream media.

You may remember a few months back that an angry pro-abortion mob, for a short time, thwarted the will of the people in passing a critical pro-life bill prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The legislature later passed this critical pro-life bill after Governor Perry called a special session to ensure that the will of the people of Texas protecting the lives of unborn babies was upheld.

This portion of the law, the main portion that garnered so much media attention and hate from the Left, was NOT struck down.  In fact, it wasn’t even a part of this particular lawsuit.

In this case, Planned Parenthood and others challenged two other provisions of the Texas abortion law: 1) a provision requiring that abortionists have admitting privileges at local hospitals to ensure that if a medical emergency arose, the abortionist could get the woman and baby to a hospital close by and 2) a provision requiring that when dangerous abortion drugs are administered to a woman that for the woman’s own health the FDA’s own guidelines be followed and the drugs not be administered without a doctor physically present in the room.

The federal district court struck the first requirement as unconstitutional while narrowing the second requirement.  The 20-week abortion ban remains untouched.

Here are the two key portions of the Judge’s ruling.  First, striking the doctor admittance requirement:

The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman’s health and, in any event, 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.

Second, requiring a health and life of the mother exception for the abortion drug limitations – exceptions that if unclarified by a court or the legislature could swallow the rule:

The medication abortion provision may not be enforced against any physician who determines, in appropriate medical judgment, to perform the medication-abortion using off-label protocol for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the court expedited the case, noting, “the final decision will be made by the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The sad irony of the court’s decision is that provisions of the law that were meant to protect women have now been limited under the auspices of the “health” of the mother.  Just another example of the abortion distortion we battle every day.

Update 10.31.2013:  The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has just granted an emergency stay allowing a critical portion of the pro-life Texas bill to go into effect.  The federal appeals court in a unanimous panel of what happened to be three female judges stated that the state law requiring abortionists to have admittance privileges at local hospitals does not “impose a substantial obstacle to abortions.”

This provision will go into effect as the case continues.  The portion of the lower court’s decision regarding the abortion drug restrictions remains in effect as the case continues. 

Planned Parenthood lamented that this ruling could force it to close up to one-third of its abortion clinics.

All said the vast majority of the pro-life law will go into effect.  This ruling is a major victory for the lives of unborn babies and women in Texas.

This article is crossposted at the ACLJ’s Docket Blog.

 

Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.

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