Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Courts Rule On Virginia and Georgia Abortion Statutes

In Falls Church Medical Center, LLC v. Oliver, (ED VA, Sept. 30, 2019), a Virginia federal district court upheld some parts of Virginia's statute regulating abortions, but invalidated other parts, saying in part:
[E]nforcement of the ... Guidelines with respect to first trimester abortion procedures, and the requirement that non-surgical second trimester abortion procedures-up to the point of viability-be performed in outpatient surgical hospitals, present a substantial obstacle to women seeking an abortion and impose an undue burden on that right, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.... On the other hand, evidence of the heightened potential for complications warrant the requirement that surgical abortion procedures during the second trimester should be performed in a hospital setting.
... [B]ased on a seamless line of authority, this Court cannot conclude that the Physician-Only law ... is either unduly burdensome or improvident when weighed against the State's well-recognized responsibility for ensuring safe abortion care.
... Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that ... requiring a mandatory ultrasound and waiting period, amount to a substantial obstacle preventing a woman's access to abortion care in Virginia. Plaintiffs have further failed to show that the statute's informed consent requirement imposes an undue burden.
Undoubtedly, the requirement that abortion clinics submit to biennial inspection ... is burdensome for clinic personnel. However, it is no more burdensome than inspection requirements for other medical facilities that provide similar services....
AP reports on the decision.

In SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective v. Kemp, (ND GA, Oct. 1, 2019), a Georgia federal district court issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Georgia's statute that prohibits abortions after detection of a fetal heartbeat.  The court said in part:
Plaintiffs have therefore met their burden of showing that H.B. 481, in prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, would operate as “a substantial obstacle to a woman’s choice to undergo an abortion” in “a large fraction” of relevant cases.....
Furthermore, as discussed above in detail, the Supreme Court has repeatedly and unequivocally held that a State may not ban abortion prior to viability.
Center for Reproductive Rights issued a press release announcing the decision.