AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday reviewed efforts to clarify exceptions to the state’s abortion ban, which a growing number of women say force them to continue pregnancies despite grave risks. their health.
The Texas lawsuit is one of the biggest challenges to the US abortion ban since Roe v. Wade last year. Last July, several women in Texas gave emotional testimony about carrying babies they knew wouldn’t survive and doctors were unable to offer abortions despite their circumstances.
A judge later ruled that the Texas ban was too restrictive for women with pregnancy complications, but that order was quickly overturned after the state appealed.
The decision is now before Texas’ highest court, and during arguments on Tuesday, a judge on the all-Republican panel raised concerns about potentially giving doctors too broad discretion to provide exception.
“This very well opens the door wider than you recognize,” said Justice Jimmy Blacklock.
A decision from the court can take months.
The lawsuit does not seek to overturn the Texas abortion ban but to force more clarity on when exceptions are allowed under the law, which is one of the strictest in the U.S. Under the Texas law, doctors who performs an abortion risks life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Opponents say that leaves some women with providers unwilling to discuss terminating a pregnancy. Among those in the courtroom’s packed gallery Tuesday were women who joined the lawsuit after being denied abortions, some of whom criticized the justices for asking whether women should sue doctors for failing to provide care.
“There is no point in suing my doctor who is already giving me the best care our state has to offer. I think it comes down to legislation,” said Kimberly Manzano, who traveled to New Mexico in May for an abortion after doctors said her baby would not survive outside the womb.
Women across the US continue to file lawsuits challenging abortion bans enacted in Republican-led states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe last year. What makes the case in Texas different is that the women are believed to be the first in the US to sue a state and prove the denial of abortion after the newly implemented restrictions.