Ruling latest change to abortion law after end of Roe v Wade
The Texas Supreme Court on Friday allowed a hotly debated 1925 state law banning abortions to take effect, overruling a lower court decision. It’s the latest step in the nationwide rollback of abortion rights after the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade.
In June, after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe, which established a federal constitutional right to abortion, Texas’s 1925 abortion ban automatically took effect.
The law had remained on the books in the state for the previous century – even though abortion has been federally protected for the last five decades.
A group of abortion clinics sued to stop the old law from being reinstated, arguing it had previously been interpretted by courts as repealed and unenforceable after Roe.
A Harris County judge temporarily blocked the implementation of the ban, which calls for prison sentences for abortion providers.
The ruling allowed abortions at the clinics in the lawsuit to continue temporarily until up to six weeks of pregnancy, the threshold under Texas’s more recently implemented abortion restrictions.
The state of Texas challenged the holding and sought emergency relief at the state Supreme Court.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the Supreme Court decision on Twitter on Saturday morning, calling it a “pro-life victory” for “Texas’ unborn babies”.
Abortion advocates, meanwhile, lamented the decision.
“Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences,” Julia Kaye, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, told The New York Times.
The ruling is only a temporary resolution to the case.
Another high court hearing is scheduled in the case for later this month.
Texas was racing closer to a total abortion ban even before the end of Roe v Wade.
Last year, Governor Greg Abbott signed the so-called Texas Heartbeat Act into law, which outlawed abortions after 6 weeks, a point at which most people still don’t know if they’re pregnant.
The law attracted controversy because it made no exceptions for victims of rape, sexual abuse, or incest.
It also featured a novel provision offering bounty-like rewards to ordinary citizens who helped enforce the law.
The Texas Supreme Court decision mirrors one from the high court in Ohio, which denied a motion for an emergency stay of the state’s six-week abortion ban on Friday.