Judge temporarily halts Texas ban on common second-trimester abortion procedure

A patient room at Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. WWH serves as one of the plaintiffs suing the state over its ban on D&E abortion

A patient room at Whole Woman's Health clinic in Austin. WWH serves as one of the plaintiffs suing the state over its ban on D&E abortion

A federal judge has blocked a Texas law banning dismemberment abortions.

Judge Lee Yeakel said in his ruling Thursday that if the law goes into effect, abortion providers "will 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 restriction was part of Senate Bill 8 signed by Gov. Greg Abbot in May in response to a U.S Supreme Court ruling a year ago that struck down a 2013 Texas law, NBC News noted. It is a barbaric and risky procedure in which the unborn baby is ripped apart in the womb and pulled out in pieces while his or her heart is still beating.

Both sides are expected back in court September 14 in Austin for a hearing where Yeakle is expected to consider whether to issue a preliminary injunction as the case proceeds. In his ruling, he wrote that the law "leaves that woman and her physician with abortion procedures that are more complex, risky, expensive, hard for many women to arrange, and often involve multi-day visits to physicians, and overnight hospital stays".

With it in place, Texas doctors and health care providers can continue using the dilation and evacuation procedure - deemed the safest by medical professionals for second-trimester abortions - until a more permanent decision is made by the court.

"Judge Yeakel's granting of the TRO today is expected given his past of ruling against Pro-Life legislation", the group continued.

"The Texas Attorney General will continue to defend our state's legal right to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn", the statement added.

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Texas Right to Life adds, nevertheless, that the ruling is "the first step in a longer and consequential legal battle over this dynamic and historic legislation".

National pro-life leaders also pointed to the gruesomeness of the dismemberment abortion procedure.

The Dismemberment Abortion Ban outlaws a specific abortion procedure in which a living preborn child is killed by being torn limb from limb in utero.

The abortion clinic lawyers are attempting to frame this lawsuit on how SB 8 will affect Texas women and the abortion industry, however the important question before the court is whether this type of procedure is something Texas has the right to prohibit.

Earlier this week, in a hearing held by Judge Yeakel, attorneys for the state argued that dilation and evacuation, also known as D&E, is a "particularly gruesome procedure". The amendment passed with overwhelming bipartisan support of House members on a vote of 92-42, and Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 8 as amended into law shortly after the session. Others, in Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma, haven't taken effect because of court challenges brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, according to the organization.

The new Texas law uses the non-medical term "dismemberment abortion" to describe a procedure in which forceps and other instruments are used to remove the fetus from the womb.