Looking to Protect Doctors, Texas Abortion Providers Sue State

A state law banning abortion is not expected to go into effect for at least 30 days though the state is using a pre-Roe v. Wade law that could prosecute doctors now

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had provided a constitutional right to abortion. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states, although the timing of those laws taking effect varies.

Some Republican-led states will ban or severely limit abortion immediately, while other restrictions will take effect later. At least one state, Texas, is waiting until after the Supreme Court issues its formal judgment in the case, which is separate from the opinion issued Friday and could take about a month.

Photos: America Reacts After Roe v. Wade is Overturned

Still, Texas abortion providers took legal action today trying to secure protection for doctors until the ban on the procedure officially begins. Here is where abortion rights currently stand in the State of Texas


The GOP has commanding majorities in the Texas Legislature and has controlled every statewide office for nearly 30 years. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is up for reelection in November and is favored to win a third term.


Texas has given the nation a preview of the landscape of abortion access without the protections enshrined in Roe v. Wade. A new Texas law banning most abortions after about six weeks — before many women know they are pregnant — took effect in September and makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Because of how Republicans wrote the law, which is enforceable only through lawsuits filed by private citizens against doctors or anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion, Texas has essentially outmaneuvered decades of Supreme Court precedent governing a women’s constitutional right to an abortion. State data shows the number of abortions performed in Texas’ roughly two dozen clinics fell by half in the five months after the law came into effect compared to the same period a year earlier.


Texas had more than 40 abortion clinics in 2012 before a decade of Republicans chipping away at abortion access began forcing providers to close. Without Roe v. Wade, Texas plans to ban virtually all abortions 30 days after the Supreme Court issues its judgment in the case, which could take about a month. Abortions would only be allowed when the patient’s life is in danger or if they are at risk of “substantial impairment of a major bodily function.”


Many Texas women have already traveled out of state for abortions since the law took effect, but they would likely have to travel much farther now that Roe is overturned as more states outlaw abortion. Some Republican lawmakers also want to punish companies that help their Texas-based employees get abortions elsewhere, although it’s unclear how much support that idea will have when the Legislature returns in 2023.


Ronda Kay Moreland is an anti-abortion activist and Chairman of the Board for Birth Choice of Dallas. She's been thinking of this day for a long time. While she said it’s too soon to say what this will mean for the center in terms of clients, they’ve been preparing for more visitors since the Roe v. Wade decision was leaked last month.

"We did have an increase in women on that Friday," Moreland said. "Was that coincidental, was that providential? We just don’t know."

Just yards away from the pregnancy center, a facility that once offered abortions now has chains on the door and signs that read-only clients are welcome.

Adriana Pinon is acting legal director for the ACLU of Texas. She said the lawsuit filed on behalf of abortion providers aims to extend the window of time women can get abortions in the state.

"The lawsuit is seeking to extend the amount of time that Texas’ trigger ban goes into effect," said Pinon.

Texas lawmakers have dedicated some $ 100 million in state funding to pregnancy centers like Birth Choice Dallas.

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