The Dismemberment Abortion Ban was set to take effect on September 1, 2017, but Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western District of Texas issued a temporary restraining order until November 22nd to allow the abortion industry’s lawsuit to have a full trial. On Thursday morning, the hearing on the abortion industry’s case begins in Austin with Judge Yeakel again presiding.
During the regular session of the 85th Texas Legislature, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban passed as an amendment to Senate Bill 8. The ban outlaws a gruesome abortion procedure in which a living preborn child is torn limb from limb while his or her heart is still beating. The dismemberment of a living child in utero is a barbaric and inhumane practice, and legislators acted upon their compelling state interest by protecting preborn Life with the Dismemberment Abortion Ban.
The plaintiffs include Whole Woman’s Health and multiple Planned Parenthood affiliates, along with several other abortion facilities and four individual abortionists represented by their own legal counsel and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The abortion advocates argue that the Dismemberment Abortion Ban imposes an undue burden on women seeking abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy, claiming the ban effectively prohibits all D&E abortions. The plaintiffs allege in their filing with the court that the ban “threatens the health of Plaintiff’s patients and their access to abortion care, subjects Plaintiffs to criminal penalties, and violates Plaintiffs’ patients’ constitutional rights.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s team, the leading defendants in the case, has clarified that not all D&E abortions are banned by the measure, but rather those procedures that dismember a living preborn child, defined as “Dismemberment Abortions” in the legislation. Part of the legal basis for the legislation is the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling in Gonzales v. Carhart in which the highest court in the United States affirmed that states have a compelling interest in protecting the Life of the preborn child by outlawing particularly gruesome and inhumane procedures.
Senate Bill 8 also includes a ban on Partial Birth Abortions, a late-term abortion procedure already banned at the federal level. The federal and state Partial Birth Abortion bans arise from the state interest in protecting the preborn children from being killed in a particularly violent and inhumane manner. However, the abortion industry’s lawsuit does not challenge this section of Senate Bill 8 because the Supreme Court has already ruled in favor of the similar federal Pro-Life law. Likewise, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban outlaws a specific abortion procedure that the majority of Texans recognize as incompatible with a humane society. Like the Partial Birth Abortion Ban at the federal level, the Dismemberment Abortion Ban received overwhelming grassroots support in Texas.
Judge Yeakel, who has ruled against Pro-Life legislation in several high-profile cases, is not expected to have the final ruling on this landmark case. Yeakel’s anti-Life rulings are routinely appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals where Pro-Life legislation typically receives a fair assessment. Texas Right to Life supports Attorney General Ken Paxton’s efforts to defend the Dismemberment Abortion Ban in the highest court possible to honor Texas’ intent to protect innocent human Life.
Texas Right to Life will be in Austin on Thursday when the Federal District Court hearing begins.