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Federal judge reverses own ruling on Virginia law against non-doctors commiting abortions

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RICHMOND, Virginia, May 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In a rare reversal, the federal judge who struck down part of a decades-old Virginia requirement Monday that only licensed physicians could commit abortions in the first trimester has vacated his own order a week later, stating that more information is necessary to render a sound verdict.

The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and a group of medical centers sued the state over the 1975 law last summer, arguing it and other abortion regulations were burdensome and medically unnecessary. Last week, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson ruled in part against the law on the grounds that the rule was “unduly burdensome” in the first trimester but not later in pregnancy.

On Tuesday, however, Hudson vacated his own order, The Washington Post reported, and offered both sides the opportunity to make their case at trial next week.

“On further review, the Court is of the opinion that summary judgment was improvidently awarded,” he wrote. “Rather, on further consideration, whether the ‘Physicians-Only Law’ presents an undue burden to Virginia women who seek an abortion is a material fact that is genuinely in dispute.”

“Whatever the full explanation, we're thrilled that Judge Hudson took this extraordinary step to reverse his earlier decision that jeopardized women's health, nullified our laws, and provided another free pass to the abortion facilities,” the Family Foundation of Virginia responded in a statement. “Unfortunately, when we have an Attorney General who acts out of loyalty to a favored special interest instead of fidelity to the law, initial impressions of the court can become distorted. That seems to have played a role here.”

Undeterred, Center for Reproductive Rights lead attorney Jenny Ma told the Post that she would present at trial the “overwhelming evidence that medical professionals other than physicians can safely and effectively provide abortion care.”

Pro-lifers argue that relaxing the criteria for who can commit abortions will both increase the number of abortions in the state and put abortion-seeking women in greater danger by subjecting them to abortionists with less training or experience. Infamous Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, for instance, delegated parts of the abortion process such as administering anesthesia to non-physician employees, one of whom was only 15 years old.

"Abortion through birth isn't enough for the abortion industry,” Family Foundation of Virginia president Virginia Cobb previously said. “Now it wants to increase its profit margin by not having to pay for doctors to do surgery."

Other questions over the law’s ultrasound and waiting period provisions are slated to be taken up on May 20.

Virginia’s government is currently presided over by Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam, one of the most infamously pro-abortion politicians in the country due to his defense of a bill that would have effectively allowed infanticide. But unfettered abortion on demand continues to receive pushback from Republican lawmakers, who last month blocked Northam’s budget proposal that would have restored taxpayer funding of abortion.

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