A federal judge on Monday struck down two Virginia laws that restrict access to abortion, ruling that they unconstitutionally burden women seeking abortions. He upheld two other challenged abortion laws, as well as the remainder of the bill containing one of the spiked laws.
US District Court Judge Henry Hudson struck down Virginia’s second-trimester hospital requirement, requiring that all second-trimester abortions be performed at licensed outpatient hospitals. He also rejected a requirement that clinics providing five or more first-trimester abortions per month would have to meet the same facility requirements as general and surgical hospitals.
In his published opinion, Hudson found that both laws “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.”
Davis upheld two other challenged Virginia laws as constitutional. One law requires women seeking abortion to undergo an additional ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion. The other requires all abortions to be performed by a physician, meaning that the procedure cannot be performed by nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants. Other provisions of the law that contained the overturned facility requirements were also upheld.
Rosemary Codding, a women’s rights advocate and founder-director of the Falls Church Healthcare Center, stated that “despite this significant move toward access, we at Falls Church Healthcare Center are disappointed by [Monday]’s decision.” The state’s counsel said that the laws did not place an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortions, and that they made abortions safer for women.