- Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order late Friday night.
- The order said clinics could continue performing abortions.
- A hearing is scheduled for later this month.
Abortion ban in the US: The Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order late Friday night that said clinics could continue performing abortions, just days after some doctors had resumed seeing patients after the fall of Roe v Wade. It was not immediately clear whether Texas clinics that had resumed seeing patients this week would halt services again. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.
The whiplash of Texas clinics turning away patients, rescheduling them, and now potentially cancelling appointments again - all in the span of a week - illustrated the confusion and scrambling taking place across the country since Roe was overturned. An order by a Houston judge earlier this week had reassured some clinics they could temporarily resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy. That was quickly followed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asking the state's highest court, which is stocked with nine Republican justices, to temporarily put the order on hold.
“These laws are confusing, unnecessary, and cruel,” said Marc Hearron, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, after the order was issued Friday night. Clinics in Texas had stopped performing abortions in the state of nearly 30 million people after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned Roe v. Wade and ended the constitutional right to abortion. Texas had technically left an abortion ban on the books for the past 50 years while Roe was in place.
A copy of Friday's order was provided by attorneys for Texas clinics. It could not immediately be found on the court's website. Abortion providers and patients across the country have been struggling to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access.
In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily blocking the law next week. The ban could have broader implications in the South, where Florida has wider access to the procedure than its neighbours.
Abortion rights have been lost and regained in the span of a few days in Kentucky. A so-called trigger law imposing a near-total ban on the procedure took effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law Thursday, meaning the state's only two abortion providers can resume seeing patients - for now.
The legal wrangling is almost certain to continue to cause chaos for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings able to upend access at a moment's notice and an influx of new patients from out-of-state overwhelming providers.
Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans in place, they may have fewer options to end their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them.
Planned Parenthood of Montana this week stopped providing medication abortions to patients who live in states with bans “to minimize the potential risk for providers, health center staff, and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”
Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, is telling its patients that they must take both pills in the regimen in a state that allows abortions.
The use of abortion pills has been the most common method to end a pregnancy since 2000 when the US Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone - the main drug used in medication abortions. Taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes cramping that empties the womb, it constitutes the abortion pill.