Victory for Wendy Davis and her supporters: a federal judge has ruled that Texas’ new restrictive abortion law is unconstitutional, and thus cannot go into effect as planned on Tuesday. District Judge Lee Yeakel determined that the law places an undue burden on a woman’s ability to get a legal abortion (the Texas law doesn’t outlaw abortion outright, rather it creates many legal hoops that doctors, patients and clinics must jump through to have a legal abortion. These would force many Texas abortion clinics to close.) Yeakel also determined that the restrictions imposed by the law are arbitrary, and not tied to protecting fetuses or pregnant women in any way.
Or in Yeakel’s words:
"The admitting-privileges provision of House Bill 2 does not bear a rational relationship to the legitimate right of the state in preserving and promoting fetal life or a woman's health and, in any event, places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus and is thus an undue burden to her.”
The ruling prevents, for now at least, the closing of dozens of abortion clinics in Texas. His decision will undoubtedly be appealed, meaning that it could end up in the Supreme Court, if Chief Justice John Roberts chooses to take on abortion (it wouldn’t be surprising, Roberts has been packing in conservative causes while they still have a chance of passing).
The Texas abortion law is already one of the most famous state bills, due to State Senator Wendy Davis’ 13 hour stand against it. Wendy Davis succeeded in blocking the bill through one emergency session, but it was reintroduced and passed. The judge’s ruling, though it had nothing to do directly with Davis, is a win for her and her supporters, and gives her a boost (and some extra media attention) as she runs for governor in 2014.