Some abortions are temporarily legal in Texas again.
Abortions up to about six weeks in pregnancy can resume at some clinics in Texas for now after a Harris County District Court judge granted a temporary restraining order that blocks an abortion ban that was in place before Roe v. Wade.
In the ruling issued Tuesday, Judge Christine Weems ruled that the pre-Roe abortion ban “is repealed and may not be enforced consistent with the due process guaranteed by the Texas constitution.”
“It is a relief that this Texas state court acted so quickly to block this deeply harmful abortion ban,” Marc Hearron, senior counsel 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 as a result of this ruling.
“We immediately began calling the patients on our waiting lists and bringing our staff and providers back into the clinics,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, the organization’s president and CEO.
Abortions can resume only at the clinics named in the lawsuit. Besides 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.
On a press call Tuesday, Hearron declined to speculate on what the temporary restraining order on the pre-Roe ban might mean for other clinics and abortion funds in the state.
“I don’t know that I have an answer to that question,” he said. “I think that’s a legal question that the other clients would want to look at.”
While some abortion access has been restored in Texas, current state law still allows abortions only up to around six weeks of pregnancy, a point at which many people don’t even know they are pregnant.
“So there still will be a large number of Texans who are still going to need to try to find access and appointments outside of the state,” Hearron said.
See here for the background. This will of course be appealed, so as I said before it will ultimately come down to what the Supreme Court says, if they choose to weigh in at all – they may decide to slow roll it, given that the whole thing will be moot in at most about two months. Not deciding when they don’t have to is a specialty of theirs.
As for the question of other providers, the Chron has a bit of input.
It’s unclear whether the injunction applies to clinics that are not party to the suit, such as Planned Parenthood.
The CEOs of Texas Planned Parenthood affiliates said in a joint statement Tuesday that their clinics had no immediate plans to resume offering abortions, but added: “This is a rapidly evolving situation and legal teams are still reviewing this order and its potential implications.”
The case could also offer a lifeline to Texas abortion funds, which provide transportation and other assistance to people seeking abortions, after they shuttered Friday, citing concerns of criminal liability.
Seems like it’s worthwhile to me to at least get the clarity and some assurance that you won’t be arrested for something that may have happened five minutes after Ken Paxton decided it was illegal. I Am Not A Lawyer, your mileage may vary, etc etc etc. I still think they should at least give serious thought to filing their own claims. We’ll see.