The next step is a hearing on Sept. 14 on whether to grant a preliminary injunction, which could block the law from taking effect until the case is resolved. From there, the case could proceed to a full trial before the District Court or move on to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Ultimately, it could end up before the United States Supreme Court, said Janet Crepps, a senior counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing Texas abortion providers alongside lawyers from Planned Parenthood.
“We’re grateful that today’s decision will protect women’s access to one of the safest and most common methods of abortion in the second trimester,” Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement.
The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, criticized the ruling. Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Mr. Paxton’s office, said in a statement that dilation-and-evacuation abortions were “gruesome and inhumane, which makes it troubling that a District Court would block Texas’ lawful authority to protect the life of unborn children from such a barbaric practice.”
The statement emphasized that the law would not ban second-trimester abortions, saying it simply “ensures more humane treatment of the unborn child.”
Supporters of the law cited studies that they said demonstrated the safety of the additional procedures the law would require. However, medical officials generally oppose them. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said that standard dilation-and-evacuation abortions are “evidence-based and medically preferred” in the second trimester because they cause “the fewest complications for women compared to alternative procedures.”
“We don’t really know what is the next best alternative because we haven’t had to use it as a medical community for decades,” said Dr. Bhavik Kumar, medical director of the Texas Whole Woman’s Health clinics, the main plaintiffs in the case. “There isn’t any good evidence, if any evidence, to support any of the alternatives’ being viable options.”
Before the ruling came down, Dr. Kumar said, he felt panicky thinking about having to tell patients “that this is how I normally would do the procedure if I were in any other state, but because of the new state law, I now have to provide you with care that is substandard.”