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WASHINGTON D.C.— A federal district court judge today blocked a 2017 Texas measure banning the safest and most common method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Existing restrictions in Texas have forced more women to access abortions later in pregnancy, due to closures, longer wait times and travel. In fact, research shows there was a 27 percent increase in second trimester abortions in Texas after the passage of abortion restrictions in 2013.  

Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood, and other reproductive health providers in the state challenged the Texas measure last month, with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood serving as co-counsel.  The ban will remain blocked while the case—Whole Woman’s Health v Paxton—proceeds.  

The unconstitutional measure was slated to take effect on September 1.  

“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,” said Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.  “This dangerous law is yet another attempt by politicians to ban abortion step by step and method by method, regardless of who it hurts. Every person deserves the right to access safe medical care, no matter who you are or where you live.”

Today’s filing comes a little over a year since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas’s clinic shutdown law in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt  in a challenge brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“Today’s ruling is the latest victory upholding a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.   “Today’s order will ensure women can continue to get the vital care they need while we work to permanently prevent these misguided laws from taking effect.”

This law is part of a coordinated national strategy by anti-abortion politicians, who’ve passed more than 330 restrictions on abortion at the state level since 2010. Seven other states in addition to Texas have passed similar bans.  Laws in Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma have not taken effect due to challenges brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights.  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center recently secured a ruling blocking a similar measure in Arkansas and the ACLU has also successfully blocked a similar ban in Alabama.

"We will not stop fighting on behalf of our Texas community,” said Yvonne Gutierrez, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “Planned Parenthood health centers have seen how restrictions on safe, legal abortion can put it out of reach.  For too many people today, the legal right to abortion does not translate into access, especially for young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes.”

Major mainstream medical experts like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this type of ban, noting “these restrictions represent legislative interference at its worst: doctors will be forced, by ill-advised, unscientifically motivated policy, to provide lesser care to patients. This is unacceptable.” 

Last month’s challenge to the Texas measure was filed by Janet Crepps and Molly Duane of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Melissa Cohen of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Austin attorney Patrick O’Connell and J. Alexander Lawrence of the law firm Morrison & Foerster in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of Whole Woman’s Health, Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center, Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, Reproductive Services, and several individual physicians.   

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.