The judge presiding over the case of the second federal lawsuit against the newest Texas abortion law has extended the trial to give plaintiff attorneys more time to come up with evidence that is not based in emotion and can be considered quantifiable.
Austin Federal District Judge Lee Yeakel told attorneys that he wants them to point to specific evidence showing why the regulation that would require all clinics to become ambulatory surgical centers should be overturned.
But Esha Bhandari, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said that’s something they’ve been able to accomplish.
"He’s asking both parties, in their closing arguments, to focus on the evidence that was presented at the trial rather than any rhetoric or other discussions around the issue that have been happening outside of the courtroom," Bhandari said. "So we understand Judge Yeakel want us to focus on the legal standards that apply.”
Yeakel pushed back closing arguments until Wednesday next week.
Bhandari said their evidence was able show that the number of abortions dropped in the Rio Grande Valley by 13% since the admitting privileges requirement took affect and that the ambulatory-surgical center requirements would only further that decrease.
Plaintiff attorneys contend if the law is allowed to take effect on September 1, all but six clinics in the state performing abortions will close, making San Antonio the nearest available clinic for South Texas women.