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Federal judge blocks dismemberment abortion ban in Texas

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

AUSTIN, Texas, September 1, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — A federal judge has blocked a Texas law banning dismemberment abortions.

Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the newly passed Senate Bill 8, dubbed the Pro-Life Dismemberment Abortion Ban, which criminalizes killing a preborn child by pulling him or her apart limb by limb in the womb.

"Texas should have the right to protect innocent unborn babies from dismemberment abortions — in which a doctor kills a child by tearing him or her into pieces," Dr. Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life stated in a press release. "These are babies who are alive and healthy."

The Texas law defined dismemberment abortions as extracting “the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that … slices, crushes, or grasps … a piece of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip the piece from the body.”

Abortion businesses Planned Parenthood and Whole Woman's Health sued for a preliminary injunction against the pro-life ban, which was to go into effect September 1.  The abortion conglomerate argued that banning the dismemberment procedure places an "undue burden" on women seeking second trimester abortions.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton countered that the law would only ban one specific procedure, which is particularly inhumane. "SB 8 is designed to do one thing: stop the brutal and gruesome procedure of living dismemberment abortions," he told the court.

Yeakel's ruling in Whole Woman's Health v. Paxton grants at least a 14-day reprieve before a hearing on September 14. The Western District of Texas judge's decision was expected, given his past pro-abortion decrees.  

In his restraining order, Yeakel claimed that dismemberment is "the most commonly used and safest previability-second-trimester-abortion procedure," basically quoting the Center for Reproductive Rights’ pro-abortion literature.  

Yeakel also quibbled with the word, "dismemberment," saying it was a "non-medical" term. He concluded that "it is in the public to preserve the status quo" while the case is being prepared, so as to protect "plaintiffs or the public (from) any of the act's potential harms."

Texas is expected to appeal. Yeakel himself has admitted that he is “a whistle stop on the way to New Orleans, then onto DC,” because most of his major rulings are appealed to a superior court.

Texas Right to Life said its legal scholars anticipate that the ban will stand up in court like the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban, which also outlawed a specific and particularly gruesome abortion procedure.

Dismemberment bans in Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have been struck down by liberal judges on federal courts. Pojman attributes this to "how extremely out of touch the Supreme Court precedent is with modern science, which clearly tells us that an unborn child is living human being."

U.S. Supreme Court ruling Gonzales v Carhart (2007) affirmed that states have a "compelling interest" in maintaining ethical medical practices and in protecting preborn children.

"This decision is a victory for Texas women," Planned Parenthood Texas Votes executive director Yvonne Gutierrez said in a press release. She emphasized the restraining order was good "especially for people of color" and "those with low incomes," even though a disproportionate number of abortions are committed against minority babies.

Senate Bill 8, which includes the dismemberment ban, was Texas' answer to the Supreme Court's overruling the state's laws protecting women, such as requiring abortuaries to have on hand the same safeguards as any other surgical facility, and requiring abortionists to have hospital admission privileges for their patients.

Those 2013 laws, which were struck down by the Supreme Court last year, led to half the state's abortion businesses closing because of unsafe conditions, such as the ones that killed Lakisha Wilson. The legislation also resulted in a huge drop in abortions and more women giving life, until the nation's highest court nixed it.

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