UPDATED: Federal Judge Blocked Part of Texas Abortion Law
UPDATE: Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Ted Cruz have both issued statements about Yeakel's decision and we're shocked to report they're both agin' it. In other news, the world is round! Puppies are cute! There's gambling in Casablanca!
Anyways, Perry said he'll continue the fight (or something John Wayne-ish like that):
"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," Perry stated.
Meanwhile, Cruz went with crossing his fingers that the whole thing will be ruled a bad dream by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals:
"Texas passed commonsense legislation to protect the health of women and their unborn children. This law is constitutional and consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent protecting the life and health of the mother and child. I hope the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold Texas' reasonable law," Cruz stated.
The Texas abortion law has been judged. And found wanting.
After hearing three days of arguments in Austin last week, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled on whether the controversial law -- the one that launched Sen. Wendy Davis into the political stratosphere and elicited heated protests and debate on both sides of the issue -- is actually constitutional. Yeakel ruled new abortion regulations are unconstitutional. The regulations were slated to go into effect Tuesday, which obviously won't be happening now, according to the Associated Press.
Yeakel ruled that the regulations violated the rights of abortion doctors to do what they think is best for their patients and would unreasonably restrict a woman's access to abortion clinics, according to AP.
In the days leading up to the ruling, Yeakel said he would rule on the law before it was actually implemented on Tuesday, but he noted his ruling would be based on only the constitution thing.
"The abortion issue is a big issue in this country and it's a divisive issue," Yeakel said, according to the Associated Press. "This court is not to rule on whether women should be allowed to have abortions ... or my personal beliefs."
The law requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, that they administer the abortion pill following the instructions to the letter and that they only perform abortions after 20 weeks if the life of the mother is in danger or the fetus isn't viable.
Implementation of the law would have effectively shut down most abortion clinics in the state. Now, at least for the moment and depending what happens on appeal, those clinics may not be closing up their doors on Tuesday after all.
All of this comes as the Supreme Court prepares to take up the whole abortion issue again this term, and as state legislators have been making moves to limit abortion through state legislatures (Texas is likely the most high profile case, thanks to Davis's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-esque filibuster against the law back in June, but the Lone Star State isn't alone on this one.)
So now comes Yeakel's ruling. The Austin-based judge's decision was a final one, and now it's expected that State Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott will file an emergency appeal to Yeakel's ruling with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. And you know all those politicians that got dragged back in for a second session of the lege to get the law passed in the first place are just so sad right now.