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Abortions up to about six weeks pregnant can resume at some Texas clinics for now after a Harris County District Court judge granted a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that blocks an abortion ban which was in place before Roe v. Wade.
“It is a relief that this Texas state court moved so quickly to block this deeply damaging abortion ban,” Marc Hearron, senior attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release. “This decision will allow abortion services to resume at many clinics across the state, connecting Texans to the essential health care they need. Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory.
Whole Woman’s Health, which operates abortion clinics in McAllen, McKinney, Fort Worth and Austin, said it would resume providing abortions following the decision.
“We immediately began calling patients on our waitlists and bringing our staff and providers back to clinics,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of the organization.
Abortions can only resume at the clinics named in the lawsuit. In addition to the Whole Woman’s Health clinics, the others that will resume operations are Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services in San Antonio, Brookside Women’s Medical Center and Austin Women’s Health Center in Austin, Houston Women’s Clinic and Houston Women’s Reproductive Services in Houston, and Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center. in Dallas.
A hearing has been set for July 12 to decide on a more permanent restraining order.
However, Tuesday’s decision is only an interim measure that, at most, will extend abortion access in the state for two months.
Paul Linton, an attorney for anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life, said he believes a higher court will soon overturn the temporary restraining order and that the pre-Roe abortion ban should stand.
“I don’t think it has any merit,” Linton said. “I don’t think there is any plausible argument that the laws were expressly repealed, and the argument for repeal by implication, I think, is very weak.”
John Seago, president of Texas Right to Life, said, “The abortion industry has nothing to lose, so they’re going to try to challenge every law for the next 60 days. We believe that the pre-Roe law is valid and that the arguments they present in court will not hold.
A group of abortion providers filed a lawsuit Monday to block the enforcement of an old abortion ban, which predates Roe v. Wade, before a trigger law came into effect banning most abortions in the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion on Friday striking down constitutional abortion protections, but the decision will not be official until the court issues a formal judgment. It usually took around 25 days for the court to issue a judgment after issuing an opinion. The Texas trigger law, which passed last year, would go into effect 30 days after that ruling.
Attorney General Ken Paxton Posted an opinion Friday, noting that some prosecutors could immediately “pursue criminal charges based on violations of pre-Roe Texas abortion bans that were never repealed by the Texas Legislature. Although those laws were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law.Under those pre-Roe laws, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.
Confusion has abounded since the Supreme Court released its ruling on Friday. Clinics across the state immediately stopped offering abortions for fear of being criminally prosecuted under the pre-Roe abortion ban.
The Center for Reproductive Rights noted in a press release that “the state’s obsolete pre-Roe abortion ban … once outlawed abortion entirely, but has been interpreted as repealed and unenforceable.” .
The lawsuit filed Monday notes that the pre-Roe abortion ban “was expressly declared unconstitutional in Roe and has been absent from Texas civil law for decades.” The Texas Legislature website also notes that the ban was “deemed to have been implicitly revoked” in a 2004 case.
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