Last week we reported that U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson, in the case of Falls Church Medical Center v. Oliver, granted summary judgment (a judgment entered on the grounds that a trial without evidence is unnecessary) enjoining enforcement of a portion of a Virginia law requiring that physicians perform first and second-trimester abortions.
But on May 14, in an amazing and, to our view, unprecedented act, the judge on his own initiative reversed his earlier opinion, decided he was wrong, and said that the issue of the medical value of having physicians perform the abortion should go to a full trial hearing complete with expert medical proof on May 20.
In his order “Vacating Summary Judgment on Count IV,” Judge Hudson wrote, “summary judgment was improvidently awarded to the parties on Count IV based on the present record. Rather, on further consideration, whether the ‘Physicians-Only Law’ presents an undue burden to Virginia women who seek an abortion is a material fact that is genuinely in dispute. Therefore, to facilitate the development of a full factual record that will enable the Court to better address this question, the Court hereby vacates that portion of its Memorandum Opinion and Order pertaining to Count IV of the Amended Complaint and denies summary judgment to both parties at this stage.”
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