Sunday, October 24, 2021

Abortion resumes in some Texas clinics after judge halts law

AUSTIN, Texas (WNN) – Abortion resumed in at least six Texas clinics on Thursday after a federal judge stayed. The most restrictive abortion laws in America, but other physicians remained hesitant, fearing that the court order would not last long and put them back in legal trouble.

It was unclear how many abortions Texas clinics performed in 24 hours after US District Judge Robert Pittman suspended a law called Senate Bill 8, which had banned abortions since early September after cardiac activity was detected. ., usually about six weeks.

Before a blazing 113 page order Late Wednesday, other courts refused to overturn the law, which bans abortion, before some women knew they were pregnant..

“There’s really hope from patients and staff, and I think there’s a little bit of hopelessness in that hope,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Women’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas. She said some of those clinics performed abortions on Thursday, but did not say how many.

“People know this opportunity can be short-lived,” she said.

By all accounts, the ruling did not herald a swift return to normal in Texas.

Center for Reproductive Rights spokeswoman Kelly Cross said at least six clinics in Texas resumed abortion services Thursday or were preparing to offer them again. There were about two dozen abortion clinics in Texas before the law went into effect on September 1.

The state’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, did not say on Thursday whether it had resumed abortion, emphasizing ongoing uncertainty and the possibility of an appeals court having the law quickly reinstated in the coming days. . Fund Choice Texas, which covers travel expenses for women seeking abortions, was still receiving a high volume of calls Thursday from patients who needed help with out-of-state appointments.

Executive Director Anna Rupani said the 20 calls were about the normal volume of the previous month. She said her organization – which has helped Texas women travel as far away as Seattle and Los Angeles – was still discussing whether it would help a patient in Texas get an abortion, even Even with a court injunction.

Texas law leaves enforcement only to private citizens, who are entitled to collect $10,000 in damages if they bring successful lawsuits against not only abortion providers who violate restrictions, but also anyone who allows a woman to obtain an abortion. helps to. Republicans have framed the law in a way that is designed to allow retrospective lawsuits if sanctions are set aside by one court but later put back by another.

“What really disappoints… was this law designed to create confusion, and this law was designed to create problems,” Rupani said. “It’s unfortunate that we have an injunction, and people are still having to understand the legal implications of what it means for them.”

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has reported the state’s intention to appeal, but has yet to do so Thursday.

“We are confident that the appellate courts will agree that every child with heart palpitations deserves a chance at life,” said Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s spokesman Rene Eise. Greg Abbott to sign law in May.

Hagstrom Miller said his Texas clinics early Thursday called some patients who were on the list in case the law was blocked at some point. Other appointments were being scheduled for days to come, and phone lines were busy again. But 17 physicians from some clinics were still refusing to perform abortions, fearing they could be held liable despite the judge’s order.

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Pittman’s order dealt the first legal blow to Senate Bill 8, who had faced the challenges of the past. In the weeks after the restrictions went into effect, Texas abortion providers said the impact was “exactly what we feared.”

In the opinion, Pittman took Texas to task, saying that Republican lawmakers had “made an unprecedented and transparent statutory plan” by trying to evade judicial review.

“Ever since SB 8 took effect, women have been barred from taking control of their lives in ways protected by the Constitution,” wrote Pittman, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama.

“While other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion, it is their decision; this Court will not sanction another day for this aggressive deprivation of such an important right.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which has said that the sanctions were implemented in defiance of the US Constitution. Attorney General Merrick Garland called the order “a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law.”

Abortionists say their fear has turned into reality in the short time since the law came into force. Planned Parenthood calls number of patients Texas has decreased its clinics in the state by about 80% in the two weeks since the law went into effect.

Some providers have said Texas clinics are now in danger of closure, while neighboring states struggle to keep up with patient growth. Those who have to travel hundreds of miles to have an abortion. He says other women are being forced to conceive.

It is unknown how many abortions have occurred in Texas since the law took effect. State health officials say Additional reporting requirements under the law will not make the September data available on its website until early next year.

In other states, mostly in the South, similar laws have been passed that ban abortions in the early weeks of pregnancy, all of which have been blocked by judges. A 1992 decision of the US Supreme Court prohibited states from banning abortions before viability, at which point the fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.

But the Texas version far outlasted the courts because it leaves private citizens to file a lawsuit, not prosecutors, which critics say equates to a reward.

The Texas law is just one that has set up the largest test of abortion rights in the US in decades, and is part of a broader push by Republicans nationwide to introduce new restrictions on abortion.

US Supreme Court on Monday Started a new term that would include arguments to reverse Mississippi’s bid in December Wade decision of 1973 that guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion.

Last month, the court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law not allowing it to remain in place. But abortion providers took that 5-4 vote as an ominous sign of where the court was going after former President Donald Trump’s conservative majority with three appointments on abortion.


Stengel contributed from Dallas.


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