Abortions resume in 6 Texas clinics after judge halts law


AUSTIN, Texas—Abortions quickly resumed in at least six Texas clinics after a federal judge halted the most restrictive abortion law in the US, but other physicians remained hesitant, afraid the court order would not stand for long and thrust them back into legal jeopardy.

It was unclear how many abortions Texas clinics rushed to perform Thursday after US District Judge Robert Pitman suspended the law known as Senate Bill 8, which since early September had banned abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks.

Prior to the blistering 113-page order late Wednesday, other courts had declined to stop the law, which bans abortions before some women even know they are pregnant.

“There’s actually hope from patients and from staff, and I think there’s a little desperation in that hope,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas. She said some of those clinics performed abortions Thursday but did not reveal how many.

“Folks know this opportunity could be short-lived,” she said.

By all accounts, the ruling did not usher in a fast return to normal in Texas.

At least six Texas clinics resumed abortion services Thursday or were gearing up to offer them again, said Kelly Krause, spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights. There were roughly two dozen abortion clinics in Texas before the law took effect September 1.

Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest abortion provider, did not say Thursday whether it had resumed abortions, stressing the ongoing uncertainty and the possibility of an appeals court quickly reinstating the law in the coming days. Fund Choice Texas, which covers travel expenses for women seeking abortions, was still receiving a high volume of calls Thursday from patients needing help to make out-of-state appointments.

The 20 calls were about the normal volume over the past month, Executive Director Anna Rupani said. She said her organization—which has helped Texas women travel as far away as Seattle and Los Angeles—was still discussing whether it would help a patient get an abortion in Texas even with a court injunction in place.

The Texas law leaves enforcement solely up to private citizens, who are entitled to collect $10,000 in damages if they bring successful lawsuits against not just abortion providers who violate the restrictions, but anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion. Republicans crafted the law in a way designed to also allow retroactive lawsuits if the restrictions are set aside by one court, but later put back in place by another.

“What’s really frustrating … is this law was drafted to create confusion, and this law was drafted to create problems,” Rupani said. “It’s unfortunate that we have an injunction, and people are still having to understand the legal ramifications of what that means for them.” AP

Read full article on BusinessMirror

Leave a Reply