A federal judge has made amendments to a Texas abortion ruling set into motion earlier this year which would have resulted in the closure of almost 40 abortion clinics in the state.
According to a report from the Associate Press, the amendments, enacted by District Judge Lee Yeakel, were the result of a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood and other clinics offering abortion services.
Had the original Texas abortion ruling gone into effect, abortion clinic services would have been consolidated to a single hospital in the area, a move critics of the law claimed was an attempt to limit access to abortion clinics for those already facing barriers to care such as minority women in the state.
“These laws were nothing more than medically unnecessary attempts to block women from accessing important health care,” Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), said in a statement. “As is often the case, these misguided restrictions would have disproportionately hurt the health of Latinas and women of color, who already face far too many barriers to care. Overall, today’s ruling is a win for Latina health.”
According to research from the NLIRH, Latinas overwhelmingly support access to legal abortion, with approximately 74 percent of those polled indicating a woman has the right to make personal choices regarding her pregnancy without political intervention.
Latinas feel so strongly about this controversial subject, as many as 68 percent would be willing to disagree with church leaders on the subject–a huge indicator of subject importance as the Latino population is considered very devout.
Texas abortion ruling is about barriers to care
But despite having firm views on the ability to select abortion as a medical option, Latinas face a number of barriers to care including: lack of access, lack of transportation, lack of trust in medical providers, language differences, cultural differences, lack of health insurance, immigration status, and poverty.
These hurdles made the Texas abortion ruling amendments critical for Latinas in the state as access to clinics was already an issue.
“Even though the judge has said that the FDA protocol is ‘clearly more burdensome for women,’ Texas legislators are continuing to play doctor and ensure that many women will not be able to use a safer-evidence based protocol for medication abortion,” stated González-Rojas. “The last thing Latinas need are more barriers to reproductive care.”
The original Texas abortion ruling suggested a handful of significant changes for women in the state, including a provision which required doctors to perform all abortions in surgical facilities. While that piece of legislation remains unchanged in the federal amendment, a secondary part of the original law which required doctors to obtain admitting privileges first in local hospitals was repealed.
According to NBC News, Judge Yeakel also determined the state had no right to limit an abortion doctor’s treatment options when it came to the health of the woman in question. Therefore, the provision of the law limiting the off-label use of certain medications was repealed.
“The medication abortion provision may not be enforced against any physician who determines, in appropriate medical judgment, to perform the medication-abortion using off-label protocol for the preservation of the life or health of the mother,’ the judge wrote in his decision.
The final main aspect of the original Texas abortion ruling was left intact; no abortions will be allowed after 20 weeks of pregnancy.