AUSTIN, Texas ( Associated Press) – The Texas Supreme Court has blocked a lower court order allowing clinics in the state to continue with abortions, even after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld its landmark 1973 ruling that upheld a constitutional right to abortion. reversed.
It was not immediately clear whether the clinics in Texas that resumed just days ago to perform abortions would stop services again after the ruling late Friday night. A trial is scheduled for later this month.
The whiplash of Texas clinics that turn patients away, reschedule and now possibly cancel appointments again – all within a week – illustrates the confusion and hustle and bustle that has taken place across the country since Roe v. Wade was overthrown.
READ MORE: Kansas will be the first state to vote on abortion rights after Roe’s ruling. Here’s what it means
A court order in Houston on Tuesday reassured some clinics that they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks after pregnancy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly asked the state Supreme Court, which has nine Republican judges, to suspend the order.
“These laws are confusing, unnecessary and cruel,” said Marc Hearron, a lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights, after the order was issued Friday night.
Clinics in Texas – a state of nearly 30 million people – have stopped performing abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court last week ruled Roe v. Wade overthrew. Texas has had an abortion ban on the books for the past 50 years while Roe was in place.
Attorneys for Texas clinics provided a copy of Friday’s order, which was not immediately available on the court’s website.
Abortion providers and patients across the country have struggled to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access.
In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily next week block. The ban could have wider implications in the South, where Florida has wider access to the procedure than its neighbors.
Abortion rights were lost and recovered in Kentucky within days. A so-called trigger law that imposes an almost total ban on the procedure went into effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law on Thursday, meaning the state’s only two abortion providers can resume seeing patients – for now .
The legal dispute will almost certainly continue to wreak havoc for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings lifting access at a moment’s notice and an influx of new patients from overwhelming providers outside the state.
Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans in place, they may have fewer options to end their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them.
READ MORE: Americans want government to prioritize abortion, women’s rights after Roe v. Wade decision, according to opinion poll
Planned Parenthood of Montana this week stopped providing drug abortions to patients living in states with bans “to reduce potential risk to providers, health center staff and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”
Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, tells its patients that they must both take pills in the regime in a state that allows abortions.
The use of abortion pills has been the most common method of terminating a pregnancy since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the main drug used in medication abortions. Taken together with misoprostol, a remedy that causes cramps that empty the uterus, it forms the abortion pill.
“There is a lot of confusion and concern that the providers may be at risk, and they are trying to limit their liability so that they can provide care to people who need it,” says Dr. Daniel Grossman, who leads the research group Advancing New Standards. in Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco.
Emily Bisek, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said that in an “unknown and murky” legal environment, they decided to tell patients that they should be in a state where it is legal to have the abortion. complete – which requires two drugs to be taken. 24 to 48 hours apart. She said most patients from states with bans will opt for surgical abortions.
Access to the pills has become a key battle in abortion rights, with the Biden administration preparing to argue that states cannot ban a medication that has received FDA approval.
Kim Floren, who runs an abortion fund in South Dakota called the Justice Empowerment Network, said the development would further limit women’s choices.
“The purpose of these laws, in any case, is to scare people,” Floren said of states’ bans on abortions and telemedicine consultations for medication abortions. “The logistics of actually enforcing it are a nightmare, but they rely on the fact that people are going to be scared.”
A South Dakota law went into effect Friday that threatens a criminal punishment for anyone who prescribes abortion medication without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners.
In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it was investigating whether individuals or groups could face prosecution for helping women finance and travel to extra-state abortion appointments.
Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women cover abortion and travel expenses, said it was suspending the operation for two weeks due to a lack of clarity under state law.
“This is a temporary break, and we’re going to find out how we can legally get money and resources for you and what it looks like,” said Kelsea McLain, Yellowhammer’s healthcare access director.
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said staff members at her clinics saw women driving from as far away as Texas without stopping – or making an appointment. Women over 15 weeks were asked to leave their information and promised a callback if a judge signed the order temporarily blocking the restriction, she said.
However, there are concerns that the order may only be temporary and that the law may re-enter into force later, which could cause additional confusion.
“It’s terrible for patients,” she said. “We are very nervous about what will happen.”
Izaguirre reported from Tallahassee, Florida, and Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Associated Press writers Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Kentucky; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; and Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama, contributed to this report.