A Texas judge may rule soon on a challenge to the state’s abortion pill law, as lawyers on both sides appeared before him in a highly anticipated hearing. The case centers around restrictions on medication abortion, which opponents say are medically unnecessary and unjustifiably limit women’s access to safe, legal abortion. The conservative-led Texas legislature passed the law in 2013, and it has been the subject of numerous legal challenges since then.
Despite facing intense pressure from conservative groups to uphold the restrictions, Judge Lee Yeakel appeared to be sympathetic to the plaintiffs’ arguments during the hearing. In particular, he seemed open to the idea that the medication abortion regulations were not based on sound medical evidence and could endanger women’s health.
“The court has to determine whether any benefit can be achieved by this law,” Yeakel said. “And if it’s threadbare and not beneficial, that’s a problem.”
Conservative groups, however, remain adamant that the restrictions are necessary to protect fetal life and the health of pregnant women. They have pointed to numerous studies claiming that medication abortion is inherently unsafe, although many medical experts dispute these claims.
The plaintiffs in the case are a group of abortion providers and advocates, who argue that the restrictions on medication abortion are an unconstitutional burden on women’s right to choose. They say that the law has already caused many clinics in the state to close, leaving women with few safe options for terminating a pregnancy.
The judge is expected to issue a ruling in the case within the next few weeks. Whatever the outcome, the decision is likely to have major implications for abortion access not just in Texas, but across the country.