A federal judge abandoned his own previous ruling permitting medical professionals who are not doctors to perform first-trimester abortions in Virginia.
U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson on Tuesday walked back his May 6 ruling that Virginia’s “Physicians-Only Law” requiring doctors to perform first-trimester abortions is “‘unduly burdensome’ and therefore unconstitutional,” The Washington Post reported.
Hudson granted a motion for summary judgment following his conclusion.
That ruling would have allowed first-trimester abortions to be performed in clinics or hospitals in the presence of a medical professional, including nurse practitioners, physician assistants and midwives with appropriate training.
A physician would not have been required to perform or be present for the procedure, according to the ruling.
Hudson ruled in 2010 that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate was unconstitutional. Former president George W. Bush appointed Hudson.
Abortion groups have long argued medical professionals and nurses should be able to perform first-trimester and medication abortions.
Permitting only doctors to perform the procedures in an underhanded attempt to restrict abortion access, pro-choice groups argue.
They hailed Hudson’s ruling last week that the “Physicians-Only Law” was unconstitutional.
“It’s truly a landmark ruling,” Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Jenny Ma said following the ruling, the Post reported May 8.
Hudson, however, has rescinded the ruling.
“On further review, the Court is of the opinion that summary judgment was improvidently awarded,” he wrote.
Pro-life groups applauded Hudson’s reversal.
“We’re thrilled that Judge Hudson took this extraordinary step to reverse his earlier decision that jeopardizes women’s health,” Family Foundation President Victoria Cobb said in a statement, the Post reported.
The Virginia Society for Human Life “welcomes the action of Judge Hudson to reverse his own ruling,” said the group’s president, Olivia Gans Turner.
Ma, however, is no longer happy with the judge.
“There is overwhelming evidence that medical professionals other than physicians can safely and effectively provide abortion care,” Ma said in an email criticizing Hudson’s updated conclusion, according to the Post.
A decision is set to be finalized in a May 20 trial. Those in favor of and those against the ruling will have the opportunity to make a case in the trial in Richmond.
In addition to the state’s physicians-only requirement, the May 20 trial will deal with challenges to the state’s clinic licensing standards and Virginia’s 24-hour mandate that blocks women from undergoing abortions until at least a full day has passed since the time they receive an ultrasound.
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