Texas women and their doctors will no longer be banned from using the most common second-trimester abortion procedure, dilation and evacuation, a federal district judge ruled on Wednesday.
According to the Texas Tribune, Judge Lee Yeakel struck down part of anti-abortion Texas Senate Bill 8, which allowed people who helped women obtain dilation and evacuation abortions to be jailed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the law in June to go into effect in September, but Yeakel issued a temporary restraining order on the measure in August after the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood filed suit. The restraining order was set to expire Wednesday evening.
The ruling will allow abortion providers to use the dilation and evacuation procedure without first ending the fetus’ life, which pro-choice advocates argued made women take on unnecessary medical risks and contributed to the logistical issues women run into when attempting to obtain an abortion.
At the five-day trial for the decision, doctors who have provided abortions said methods used to induce fetal demise are used halfway through the second trimester. The doctors said using these methods earlier in a pregnancy was untested and couldn’t always guarantee demise. State lawyers, however, said that ending a fetus’ life before abortion was humane and not burdensome.
In Yeakel’s decision, he wrote he was “unaware of any other medical context that requires a doctor–in contravention of the doctor’s medical judgment and the best interest of the patient–to conduct a medical procedure that delivers no benefit to the woman.”
He also wrote that the cost and delay created by requiring fetal demise are burdensome for low-income women.
“Words are important,” Yeakel wrote. “That a woman may make the decision to have an abortion before a fetus may survive outside her womb is solely and exclusively the woman’s decision. The power to make this decision is her right.”