With days remaining until new abortion regulations take effect in Texas, attorneys for abortion providers and the state of Texas presented their final arguments Wednesday on whether those restrictions meet constitutional muster.
“The result is much more obvious to each side than it is to me,” said U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, who is presiding over a case in which the abortion providers’ attorneys are seeking to block two of the provisions state lawmakers approved in July. “I recognize the clock is ticking toward October the 29th. I think both sides raised strong issues, and I will get a final judgment out as quickly as I can get a final judgment out.”
The plaintiffs, who represent the majority of abortion providers in Texas, including four Planned Parenthood affiliates, Whole Woman’s Health and other independent abortion providers, have asked the court for an injunction to block the implementation of two provisions in House Bill 2 that would take effect Oct. 29: a requirement that doctors who perform abortion have active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility, and that doctors follow the FDA regimen, rather than a commonly used evidenced-based protocol, for drug-induced abortions.
Yeakel will be the first judge — but probably not the last — to rule on whether the provisions are constitutional. Yeakel, who gave no specific indication Wednesday on when he would rule, said Monday that he expects that whichever side is disappointed with his ruling to appeal the decision, probably all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
See here and here for more on trial testimony. I won’t be surprised if Judge Yeakel issues his ruling today, but it may wait till Monday. Whatever the case, and however he rules, it’s going to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which based on past history probably already has its opinion upholding the law written and ready to be handed down. Just keep reminding yourself that the ultimate remedy is at the ballot box.