Texas loses bid to reinstate ban on second-trimester abortion procedure

Oct 13 (Reuters) – The state of Texas on Tuesday lost its bid in a U.S. appeals court to reinstate a law that would have effectively banned the most common abortion procedure used by doctors to terminate second-trimester pregnancies .

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided with abortion rights activists in upholding a 2017 lower court ruling that struck down the law and temporarily prohibits its application.

Tuesday’s ruling, unless overturned on appeal, makes the injunction against the abortion restriction permanent.

The 2-to-1 majority appeal opinion found that Republican-enacted legislation, known as Senate Bill 8, “unduly constrains a woman’s constitutionally protected right” to terminate her own pregnancy before the fetus is considered viable.

The opinion was written by Appellate Judge James Dennis, who was appointed to the 5th Circuit by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. He upheld an earlier ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush.

The measure banned the standard method of abortion used after 15 weeks of pregnancy – dilation and evacuation, or D&E – unless the doctor first performed a separate, additional procedure in the woman’s body to cause death of the foetus.

This requirement, Dennis wrote, “forces abortion providers to act contrary to their medical judgment and in the best interests of their patient” by performing additional procedures that “are dangerous, painful, invasive, and potentially experimental.”

Texas law refers to the D&E procedure, involving the use of suction and forceps to bring fetal tissue through the woman’s cervix, as a “dismemberment abortion,” a non-medical term avoided by doctors.

Defenders of the law argue that its restrictions further the state interest in preventing fetal pain, but Dennis, in his view, wrote, “We find little merit in this argument.

As the appeal decision noted, major medical organizations, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, have concluded that fetal pain is impossible before 24 weeks of gestation — well beyond that. when abortions are almost never performed.

Although D&Es are the safest method of abortion after about 15 weeks of pregnancy — about two weeks into the second trimester — nearly 90% of all abortions are performed in the first trimester, according to the Guttmacher Institute. , a research group that supports abortion rights.

Texas, the most populous Republican-dominated state, has been at the forefront of efforts to impose abortion restrictions. In 2016, Whole Woman’s Health fought a legal battle that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas abortion law that had closed nearly half of clinics in the state. imposing strict regulations on doctors and institutions. (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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