The Planned Parenthood Women’s Health Center in Lubbock, the only abortion clinic over a 300-mile expanse of West Texas can start taking appointments again from Tuesday, a federal judge has ruled after striking down new restrictions that could have led to the closure of dozens of abortion providers in the state. Lubbock’s abortion clinic had stopped taking appointments from last week, pending the court’s decision, and in anticipation of the worst.
The new limits and requirements that had been imposed upon those performing abortions had been promoted as making abortions safer for women, while women’s rights activists claimed the requirements were meant to outlaw abortions because the standards being set were impractical and unrealistic, given the conditions prevailing in the state and rural areas.
Judge Lee Yeakel, a Bush appointee and a former Texas Republican governor, observed after hearing both sides that the admitting privileges, “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.”
In simpler words, the judge struck down the new abortion regulations as they imposed an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion.
The clinic at Lubbock, performs abortions only on Thursdays, because it can manage to fly in a doctor only once a week from East Texas.
The new law had stipulated that doctors performing abortions needed to have admitting privileges at an approved medical facility within thirty miles of their work. This would have effectively closed down the Lubbock clinic and at least 38 other abortion clinics in Texas.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, however, has lost no time in filing an appeal with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans which is known to have conservative leanings. However, the law might be difficult to uphold in the appeals court as the judge who struck down the law is himself well-known for his conservative but fully rational decisions. And if Judge Yeakel found the arguments strong enough to rule the law unconstitutional, it would be difficult to find that he had erred on the side of abortion.