Federal District Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Measure Banning One of the Safest, Most Common Methods of Second Trimester Abortion

(PRESS RELEASE) A federal district court judge today issued a temporary restraining order blocking a 2017 Texas measure banning the safest and most common method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood, and other reproductive health providers in the state challenged the Texas measure last month, with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood serving as co-counsel.  The ban will remain blocked while the court considers a motion to block enforcement of the law for the remainder of the case—Whole Woman’s Health v Paxton

The unconstitutional measure was slated to take effect on September 1. 

“Today’s ruling is the latest victory upholding a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Today’s order will ensure women can continue to get the vital care they need while we work to prevent these misguided laws from taking effect.”

This law is part of a coordinated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians, who’ve passed nearly 400 restrictions on abortion at the state level since 2010.  These restrictions fall hardest on people who already face barriers to health care, including young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes.  Today’s order comes a little over a year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s clinic shutdown law in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt  in a challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The state of Texas is currently facing a $4.8 million dollar fee request from the Center for its court battle in Whole Woman’s Health.

"I am elated that Judge Yeakel granted this ruling in our favor allowing Texans to continue to access the healthcare that they deserve,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, founder, president, and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health.  “All of us at Whole Woman's Health will continue to resist and fight against any laws that undermine women’s equality and compromise our ability to make healthcare decisions.  Knowing that this is just the beginning of this legal fight, we ask our communities to remain vigilant and to educate themselves on the harmful effects of these abortion restrictions. Please know that our commitment to fighting these laws will not go away. Whole Woman’s Health is here to stay.”

Seven other states in addition to Texas have passed similar bans.  Laws in Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma have not taken effect due to challenges brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center recently secured a ruling blocking a similar measure in Arkansas and the ACLU has also successfully blocked a similar ban in Alabama.

Major mainstream medical experts like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this type of ban, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.” 

“We’re grateful that today’s decision will protect women’s access to one of the safest and most common methods of abortion,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “This dangerous law is yet another attempt by politicians to ban abortion step by step and method by method, regardless of who it hurts. Every person deserves the right to access safe medical care, no matter who you are or where you live.”

Last month’s challenge to the Texas measure was filed by Janet Crepps and Molly Duane of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Melissa Cohen of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Austin attorney Patrick O’Connell and J. Alexander Lawrence of the law firm Morrison & Foerster in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, Reproductive Services, and several individual physicians.   

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