AUSTIN, TX – It’s shaping up to be a photo-finish for Texas’ controversial new abortion laws.
Back in July Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bevy of new regulations on abortion clinics across the state effectively rendering most of them inoperable. Among them are restrictions on the use of pregnancy-ending drugs and requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.
The regulations are slated to go into effect Tuesday. But last month Planned Parenthood and other abortion-rights activists filed a lawsuit against the state challenging the legality of the new rules.
“We will have communities in parts of the state where, particularly low income and young women, will not be able to access safe, legal abortion,” says Planned Parenthood’s Sarah Wheat, “and we’re concerned how that could put their health and safety at risk.”
After hearing arguments from both sides, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel said he will make a ruling as early as Monday, leaving those clinics in limbo little time to determine whether their doors will be open Tuesday morning, or not.
But here’s the kicker: whichever way Judge Yeakel rules, his decision could be moot within a few hours, anyway. Both sides are expected to appeal an unfavorable ruling and already prosecutors from ten counties around the state, including Harris County, have decided they won’t enforce the new law as long as appeals are pending.
Meaning it could still be a long time before anyone knows how this saga ends.