An abortion provider has ceased abortion services at its four Texas clinics after the state’s Supreme Court ruled Texas can enforce a 1925 ban on the services.
Late Friday, the Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order that had allowed clinics in the state to continue performing abortions even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 ruling that confirmed a constitutional right to abortion.
The lower court order by a Houston judge on Tuesday had reassured some clinics they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton quickly asked the state’s highest court to temporarily put that order on hold.
Whole Woman’s Health has four abortion clinics in Texas, including Fort Worth and McKinney. CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said clinic staff members had “heartbreaking conversations” Saturday with patients whose appointments had to be canceled. Their clinics have started the “wind-down process”, according to Hagstrom Miller.
“The Texas Supreme Court failed to protect the health and safety of Texas families and our communities; they had the power to stop enforcement of Texas’ pre-Roe ban, but they chose instead to impose their ideologies and political agendas to block thousands of Texans who need abortion care over the next two months from getting it, With the pre-Roe ban reinstated, Whole Woman’s Health is forced to cease providing abortion in our 4 Texas clinics,” she wrote in a statement. “Today, we turn to the health and wellbeing of not only our patients but also our staff and providers who are now banned from doing the work they love; the work they are highly trained to do and have dedicated their hearts, minds and bodies to provide to Texans for decades.”
Dallas-based appellate attorney David Coale described the ongoing legal disputes over abortion access as “a game of inches”.
“It’s a situation where everybody is finding victory by a day,” Coale said. “The Supreme Court’s ruling of yesterday is an interim ruling that says while we’re focused on this question of what law’s going to be for the next six months, everybody stop it. No abortions for the next couple of weeks until we get all of the arguments to us and we can make a good decision about this.”
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The issue at hand is which law will stand for the time being until Texas’ trigger law takes effect, Coale added.
“The argument that the plaintiffs have made in Houston is, these old laws that were in effect before Roe, they’re gone. They were repealed by the Legislature. There’s nothing that can come back to life,” he explained. “Ken Paxton, on the other hand, says ‘no, they’ve been there all along and Roe, when it was overruled they just came back to life. They’re in place now and will be in place until the trigger laws replace them in a couple of months.’”
In a tweet Saturday, Paxton called the order a “pro-life victory”.
“Litigation continues, but I’ll keep winning for Texas’ unborn babies,” he tweeted.
Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest and oldest anti-abortion organization, released a statement Saturday on behalf of the organization’s president Dr. John Seago.
“Preborn children deserve justice. We are thankful the Texas Supreme Court rescinded this temporary restraining order that abortionists were using as an excuse to continue their murderous practice,” Dr. Seago said.
Dozens gathered at Main Street Garden in Dallas on Saturday to advocate for abortion rights. Logan Roy said he had attended a few other protests recently.
“I have sisters, I have nieces. I have women in my life I deeply care about. Nobody tells me what to do with my life, my body. Why should we tell anybody else what to do with theirs?” Roy told NBC 5.
Hagstrom Miller shared a message sent to Whole Woman’s Health employees on Friday night.
“The days, weeks and months ahead will have uncertainty and pain, and they will also have resistance and power. Despite the minority rule we navigate at present in our country, we stand on the right side of history. Times like this call on us to summon our deepest strengths; we will need to lean on each other and extend grace to one another to make it through. And we will,” the message read in part.
A hearing on the latest Texas Supreme Court order is scheduled for later this month.