The Texas Supreme Court has overruled a lower court decision that had permitted clinics to carry out abortions in the state even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 decision that confirmed a constitutional right to abortion.
It was unclear right away whether Texas clinics that had resumed conducting abortions just days earlier would stop operations once more in the wake of the decision late Friday night. This month’s hearing is expected to take place later.
The chaos and scrambling that have occurred across the nation since Roe v. Wade was reversed is illustrated by the whiplash of Texas clinics turning away people, rescheduling them, and now perhaps canceling appointments once more – all within the space of a week.
A Houston judge’s ruling on Tuesday gave certain clinics the assurance that they may temporarily resume performing abortions up to six weeks into the pregnancy. Attorney General of Texas Ken Paxton swiftly requested that the order be temporarily suspended from the state’s highest court, which is comprised of nine Republican justices.
After the order was issued on Friday night, Marc Hearron, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said: “These laws are unclear, needless, and cruel.”
After Roe v. Wade was reversed by the US Supreme Court last week, clinics in Texas, a state with roughly 30 million residents, ceased offering abortions. While Roe was in effect, Texas continued to have an abortion restriction on the books for the past 50 years.
A copy of Friday’s order, which was not right away accessible on the court website, was obtained by Texas clinics’ attorneys.
Across the nation, patients and abortion providers have had difficulty navigating the changing legal environment surrounding abortion access and restrictions.
The day after a judge declared it to be against the state constitution and announced he would sign an order temporarily suspending the law next week, a Florida law outlawing abortions beyond 15 weeks went into effect. The South, where Florida has greater access to the practice than its neighbors, may be more affected by the restriction.
In Kentucky, abortion rights have fluctuated over the course of a few days. A judge suspended the law on Thursday, allowing the state’s only two abortion clinics to resume seeing patients – for the time being. Last Friday, a so-called trigger law that effectively outlawed the surgery completely went into effect.
With court decisions upending access at a moment’s notice and an infusion of new patients from out of state overwhelming providers, the legal tussle is likely expected to continue to generate havoc for Americans seeking abortions in the foreseeable future.
Women may have fewer alternatives to terminate their pregnancies even when they go outside of states with abortion restrictions because they risk being prosecuted.
This week, Planned Parenthood of Montana ceased offering medication abortions to clients who reside in states that have restrictions “to minimize potential risk for physicians, health center personnel, and clients in the face of a quickly changing landscape,” according to a statement.
Patients are advised to take both pills in the regimen in a state that permits abortions by Planned Parenthood North Central States, which performs the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Since mifepristone, the primary medication used in medication abortions, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000, using abortion pills has become the most popular way to end a pregnancy. It is the abortion pill when combined with misoprostol, a medication that produces cramping and empties the womb.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, who oversees the research team Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California San Francisco, said there is a lot of uncertainty and worry that the providers may be at risk. As a result, he said, they are attempting to reduce their liability so they can continue to provide care to those who need it.
According to Emily Bisek, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, they decided to inform patients that they must be in a state where it is legal to complete the medication abortion, which requires taking two drugs 24 to 48 hours apart, because the legal landscape was “unknown and murky.” Most patients from states with prohibitions, according to her, are anticipated to choose surgical abortions.
Access to the tablets has emerged as a crucial issue in the abortion rights debate, and the Biden administration is ready to argue that states cannot prohibit a drug that has FDA approval.
The decision will further restrict women’s options, according to Kim Floren, who runs the Justice Empowerment Network, an abortion fund in South Dakota.
The objective of these legislation, according to Floren, which prohibit abortions and telemedicine consultations for medication abortions, is to frighten people. “It would be a logistical headache to actually enforce things, but they depend on people being terrified,” the author said.
A South Dakota legislation that threatens felony charges against anybody who writes an abortion prescription without a license from the state’s board of medical and osteopathic examiners went into force on Friday.
The office of Alabama’s Attorney General Steve Marshall said it is examining whether individuals or organizations might be charged with a crime for aiding women in paying for and traveling to out-of-state abortion appointments.
Due to the ambiguity in state law, Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based organization that assists low-income women with covering abortion and travel costs, announced it is stopping operations for two weeks.
The director of health care access for Yellowhammer stated, “This is a temporary halt, and we’re going to figure out how we can lawfully get you money and resources and what that looks like.”
The workers at the clinics run by the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, according to executive director Laura Goodhue, have observed women traveling from as far away as Texas without stopping or scheduling an appointment. If a judge issues an order temporarily lifting the prohibition, she added, women who are past 15 weeks are being asked to leave their information and given the assurance that they will be contacted.
However, there is still worry that the order might simply be temporary and that the law might subsequently reappear, adding to the confusion.
The patient experience is dreadful, she remarked. We are quite anxious about what will happen.