U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel never intended to wade into the abortion wars. He made that much clear in the preamble to his ruling, handed down today, in Planned Parenthood's lawsuit over Texas' new abortion restrictions:
Today there is no issue that divides the people of this country more than abortion. It is the most divisive issue to face this country since slavery. When compared with the intensity, emotion, and depth of feeling expressed with regard to abortion, the recent arguments on affordable healthcare, increasing the debt ceiling, and closing the government retreat to near oblivion. Sincere and caring persons of good will are found on both sides of the issue, but neither side will ever change the position of the other. Legislatures and courts will continue to be confounded by the issue for the foreseeable future. No ruling of this court will sway the opinion regarding abortion held by anyone. And, indeed, that is not the role of this court. The court may not and will not decide whether there should be abortions in Texas. This court is charged only with determining whether certain provisions of House Bill 2 are consistent with the Constitution of the United States under existing Supreme Court precedent.
Yet Yeakel is a man of duty, and, as such, he has considered applicable law and made his decision. The provision of HB 2 requiring doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles is "without a rational basis and places a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking an abortion." The requirement that a physician administer abortion-inducing drugs using outdated FDA guidelines, which Planned Parenthood also challenged, places no such burden except when surgical abortion is likely to put the mother's health at risk.
Cue an appeal from both sides. In the meantime, here's the full opinion:
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