Though many had predicted it earlier, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals still managed to surprise many by remaining obstinately anti-abortion and putting a stay on Thursday on the decision of Judge Yeakel, just three days after Yeakel struck down the anti-abortion law as unconstitutional.
While I am sure the justices would have had good reasons for their decision, it seems the 5th Circuit missed out on one of the most important principles of temporary orders – that you do not disturb status quo pending final decision in any matter, unless it is hurting someone and may cause irreparable damage. Unless the hurt caused to the bruised egos of anti-abortionists is considered sufficient to upset the status quo preserving constitutional rights to a safe abortion.
While the implementation of the anti-abortion law in Texas would have legally changed the status quo and affected thousands of women, pro-abortion lobbies challenged in court to have justice, and the judge, a well-known conservative, reasoned the law was unconstitutional. And by striking down the law, he allowed the status quo in relation to abortions to continue in the state. This means that women continued to enjoy the constitutional rights they had been enjoying.
But, the 5th Circuit’s decision to put a stay on the district court’s ruling allows the anti-abortion law to go forward and change the status quo and immediately begin depriving women of the rights for protecting which they went before the court.
By putting a stay in this situation on Judge Yeakel’s order the 5th Circuit has affirmed that it has no intention of removing the anti-abortion law, and we can expect a hearing that’s more for the sake of formality, than for the sake of justice.
Among other clauses, Judge Yeakel had held the requirement of a doctor having admitting privileges within a 30-mile radius to be unconstitutional as there are large swaths of the state that do not have a qualified hospital even within a 100-mile radius or more. Yeakel had held such a rule served no medical purpose whatsoever, but the 5th circuit reasoned differently holding Yeakel must have focused only on emergency situations and erred.