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Hearing Set in Texas Anti-Abortion Omnibus Challenge

Jessica Mason Pieklo

On October 21, a federal judge will hear arguments as to why two provisions of a new Texas anti-abortion law should be blocked.

On October 21, a federal judge will hear arguments as to why two provisions of a new Texas anti-abortion law should be blocked, as the fight from this summer’s special session moves from the legislative floor to the courthouse, the Dallas Morning News reports.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will hear arguments in the case challenging new requirements that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at local hospitals and that providers follow outdated Food and Drug Administration protocols when administering abortion medication. The lawsuit, filed by a coalition of reproductive health organizations, abortion providers, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union argues that 13 of Texas’ 36 existing abortion providers would be forced to close should the law take effect as scheduled on October 29. According to the complaint, should that happen then at least one in 12 Texans’ who need abortion care would be forced to travel more than 100 miles to obtain it.

This is not the first reproductive rights challenge to come before Judge Yeakel. In 2012, he temporarily blocked the state law that banned Planned Parenthood from receiving funds through the Medicaid Women’s Health Program. That injunction was later overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the funding ban took effect this year with the launch of the new state-funded Texas Women’s Health Program.

At the hearing, Judge Yeakel will consider whether to immediately block the law from taking effect while the legal challenge on the merits of plaintiffs’ constitutional claims proceeds. Jim George, an attorney representing the group of abortion providers, has said that in addition to asking the federal court to issue a preliminary injunction in two weeks, his clients will also later seek a permanent injunction. If granted, the permanent injunction would prevent the law from ever taking effect.

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The October 21 arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:00 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Austin.

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