Texas judge blocks state’s anti-abortion law as Tennessee’s six-week ban goes into effect

·3 min read

Abortions up to six weeks of pregnancy can resume in Texas after a state court blocked an anti-abortion law written before the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade went into effect following the high court’s decision to strike down the constitutional right to abortion care last week.

Abortion rights advocates, providers and civil rights groups filed a lawsuit to block the pre-Roe law, which the state’s attorney general warned would hold physicians “criminally liable” for providing abortion care.

On 28 June, a judge in Harris County temporarily blocked the century-old anti-abortion law from going into effect. A hearing date is set for 12 July.

Meanwhile, a Tennessee court has allowed that state’s law banning abortions at six weeks of pregnancy – before many people know they are pregnant, or roughly two weeks after a missed period – to go into effect, vacating a two-year-old injunction blocking the law.

Outlawing abortions at six weeks will be “nothing short of devastating,” according to said Melissa Grant, CEO of abortion provider carafem.

“Since the Supreme Court’s decision, we have been flooded with phone calls from patients urgently trying to find out their options and our staff has worked around the clock to serve them,” she said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this latest court decision means many will no longer have any option other than carrying to term against their will or fleeing the state if they need care beyond six weeks in pregnancy, before many even know they’re pregnant.”

A decision to block the Texas law “will allow abortion services to resume at many clinics across the state, connecting Texans to the essential health care they need. Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory,” according to a statement from Center for Reproductive Rights senior counsel Marc Hearron.

“It is a relief that this Texas state court acted so quickly to block this deeply harmful abortion ban,” he said.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization overruled Roe and its affirming decision in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v Casey, ending a half century of constitutional protections for abortion.

The landmark decision handed the issue of abortion laws to states, rather than granting Americans the right to abortion care, and ignited a wave of legal challenges as several state-level laws that outlaw nearly all abortions went into effect.

Judges in Utah and Louisiana have also temporarily blocked anti-abortion “trigger” laws in those states. Lawsuits have been filed in Idaho, Mississippi and Kentucky seeking similar relief.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of abortion Whole Woman’s Health and Whole Women’s Health Alliance, which provides abortion care in Texas, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit that the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs and the reinstatement of the state’s anti-abortion law “will be felt for generations” if they withstand legal challenges.

“We know this because we have been on the frontlines of the battle for abortion rights and access for years,” she said. “Pregnant people deserve better. Families deserve better. ... It is why we will persist unrelentingly in our mission to deliver the compassion, empathy, support, and care that the politicians responsible for this nightmarish situation have made clear they will not.”

Dr Alan Braid, an abortion provider at Alamo Women’s Reproductive Services, said he plans to provide abortions “for as long as I legally can” while Texas law is blocked.

“Abortion is a standard and necessary part of maternal health care,” he said in a statement. “Nobody should be forced to travel across state lines for basic, time-sensitive health care. It is devastating that this will be the reality in many states, including Texas.”

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