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Roe v. Wade: Texas Supreme Court blocks abortion reinstatement order

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court late Friday night blocked a lower court order that would allow clinics to continue performing abortions, just days after some doctors ruled in the Roe v. Wade had treated patients again.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Texas clinics, which had resumed receiving patients this week, would resume service. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.

SEE ALSO: 2 abortion clinics remain operational in Houston after TX AG filed an emergency request

The whiplash of Texas clinics turning away patients, rescheduling them and now potentially canceling appointments again — all within a week — highlighted the confusion and confusion across the country since Roe was overthrown.

An order by a Houston judge earlier this week had assured some clinics that they could temporarily resume abortions for up to six weeks after the onset of pregnancy. Shortly thereafter, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the state’s highest court, which is staffed by nine Republican judges, to temporarily stay the order.

SEE ALSO: Abortions before 6 weeks may resume in Texas after court order

“These laws are confusing, unnecessary and cruel,” Marc Hearron, attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said after the order was issued Friday night.

Texas clinics had stopped providing abortions in the state of nearly 30 million people after the US Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade and ended constitutional abortion rights. Texas had technically left an abortion ban on the books for the past 50 years while Roe was in effect.

SEE ALSO: “If I just give you this money, can you give me this pill?”: Women’s clinic closed for abortion

A copy of Friday’s order was provided by attorneys for the Texas clinics. It was not immediately available on the court’s website.

Abortion providers and patients across the country are struggling to navigate the evolving legal landscape surrounding abortion laws and access.

In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, a 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 wider implications in the South, where Florida has broader access to the process than its neighbors.

Abortion rights were lost and regained in Kentucky within days. A so-called trigger law imposing a near-total ban on the procedure went into effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law Thursday, meaning the state’s only two abortion providers can see patients again — for now.

The legal tussle will almost certainly continue to wreak havoc for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, as court rulings can change access at any time and an influx of new patients from out-of-state providers is overwhelming.

Even when women travel to states with abortion bans, they may have fewer opportunities to terminate their pregnancy as the prospect of criminal prosecution follows them.

Montana’s Planned Parenthood this week stopped offering medical abortions to patients living in prohibition states “to minimize the potential risk to providers, health center workers and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”

Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, tells its patients that they must take both regimen pills in a state that allows abortions.

Taking abortion pills has been the most common method of terminating a pregnancy since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone — the main drug used in medical abortions. Taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes spasms that empty the uterus, it makes up the abortion pill.

“There is a lot of confusion and concern that providers may be at risk and they are trying to limit their liability so they can care for people who need them,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, who leads the Advancing New Standards research group in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco.

Emily Bisek, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said that in an “unknown and murky” legal environment, they decided to tell patients they must be in a state where it’s legal to have the perform a medical abortion – which requires taking two medications 24 to 48 hours apart. She said most patients from ban states are likely to choose surgical abortions.

Access to the pills has become a pivotal fight for abortion rights, and the Biden administration is preparing to argue that states cannot ban a drug that has received FDA approval.

SEE ALSO: Biden says he supports changing Senate filibuster rules to codify nationwide abortion protections

Kim Floren, who runs an abortion fund in South Dakota called the Justice Empowerment Network, said the development would further limit women’s choices.

“The purpose of these laws is to scare people anyway,” Floren said of the state’s bans on abortions and telemedicine consultations for medical abortions. “The logistics of actually enforcing these are a nightmare, but they’re counting on people going to be scared.”

A South Dakota law went into effect Friday, threatening anyone who prescribes drugs for an abortion without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners with a criminal offense.

In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it was reviewing whether individuals or groups could be prosecuted for helping women fund and travel to outofstate abortion appointments.

Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women meet abortion and travel costs, said it is suspending operations for two weeks over ambiguities in state law.

“This is a temporary hiatus and we’re going to figure out how to legally get you money and resources and what that looks like,” said Kelsea McLain, Director of Health Care Access at Yellowhammer.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said employees at her clinics saw women driving from Texas without stopping — or making an appointment. Women over 15 weeks have been asked to leave their information and promised a call back if a judge signs the order temporarily blocking the restriction, she said.

However, there is concern that the order could only be temporary and the law could come into force again later, adding further confusion.

“It’s terrible for the patients,” she said. “We’re really nervous about what’s going to happen.”

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Izaguirre reported from Tallahassee, Florida and Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. AP writers Dylan Lovan contributed from Louisville, Kentucky; Adriana Gomez Licon from Miami; and Kim Chandler of Montgomery, Alabama.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://abc13.com/texas-supreme-court-blocks-order-resuming-abortions-roe-v-wade-planned-parenthood/12011342/ Roe v. Wade: Texas Supreme Court blocks abortion reinstatement order

Dais Johnston

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