On Monday, a federal judge in Virginia provided a split ruling on several of the state’s abortion laws, upholding two while overturning two others. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson upheld a law requiring women to first receive an ultrasound and then undergo a 24-hour waiting period before receiving an abortion. He also backed the state’s “physician-only” law, which prohibits medical professionals other than physicians from committing abortions, after originally ruling it unconstitutional in May and then quickly vacating that decision.
But Hudson handed smaller victories to abortion proponents, overturning the law that requires second-trimester abortions to be committed at a licensed outpatient hospital. He also nixed the law which requires first-trimester abortion facilities to meet the same facility standards as general and surgical hospitals. The rulings came after an eight-day trial at the federal courthouse in Richmond.
The lawsuit challenging the four abortion laws was brought by a coalition of abortion rights groups, in partnership with several of the state’s abortion facilities. It was one of more than a dozen challenging new abortion restrictions around the nation.
In his ruling, Hudson stated while that the ultrasound law may result in an additional burden to women wanting an abortion, that burden doesn’t prove to be an insurmountable obstacle. “The court recognizes that the waiting period following the ultrasound adds a logistical complexity to an existing myriad of hardships faced by those with limited resources and support networks,” he wrote in his 67-page ruling. However, he found that it “is insufficient for the Court to conclude that it amounts to a substantial obstacle to abortion access.”
The state lauded his ruling on the issue. “Inconvenience is not an unconstitutional burden,” said Emily Munro Scott, one of the state’s representing attorneys.
The ultrasound ruling is a big victory for the preborn in Virginia. Research has shown that up to 78 percent of women who see an ultrasound choose not to have an abortion.
As expected, the ruling prompted an unhappy response from abortion advocates in the state. “We’re disappointed that our patients did not get their constitutionally-protected right to accessing healthcare without legislative interference, which they are entitled to and they deserve,” Rosemary Codding, the founder and director of the Falls Church Healthcare Center said in a statement.
Abortion, however, is not healthcare and is never medically necessary as has been attested to by over 1,000 OB/GYNs.
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