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Texas Emergency Abortion Ban Is Back In Place After An Injunction Was Granted

On Friday a Travis County judge’s order temporarily blocked Texas’s abortion ban on emergency abortions. Just a few hours later, the Attorney General’s office filed an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court, effectively blocking the order. 

The lawsuit was brought on by the nonprofit, the Center for Reproductive Rights, where five women argued that the abortion ban had an unconstitutionally broad interpretation of the exceptions during an emergency. 

Texas District Judge Jessica Mangrum, in the injunction, also protected doctors from prosecution for performing abortions in “their good faith judgment” that a pregnancy could be “a risk to a patient’s life.”

On Saturday, the Texas Attorney General’s Office filed an appeal at the state Supreme Court, taking the case to the nine Republican justices on the bench. 

“Protecting the health of mothers and babies is of paramount importance to the people of Texas, a moral principle enshrined in the law which states that an abortion may be performed under limited circumstances,” the attorney general’s office said in a statement, in which the agency pledged to “continue to enforce the laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature and uphold the values of the people of Texas”

The plaintiffs are asking the court to clarify the scope of emergency exemptions in the lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights. The lawsuit is only aimed at clarifying when doctors can provide abortions during unviable or dangerous pregnancies and does not try to overturn the Texas ban, unlike other litigation. 

This is believed to be the first case brought by women against state abortion bans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. 

The abortion ban in Texas has exceptions for a procedure when there is a “substantial” risk to the mother or if a fetus has a fatal diagnosis. 

However, many doctors and hospitals are deterred by the stiff penalties for those who violate the ban. As they can face up to a jail sentence of up to 99 years, tens of thousands in fines and the threat to lose their medical license. 

Even when there is clear danger present, these penalties further complicate if and when a doctor will intervene. 

This year, Texas lawmakers passed a bill that protects health care providers and pharmacists from criminal, civil and professional liability if they perform an abortion on a patient with two specific life-threatening conditions. 

Patients with ectopic pregnancies, when the egg implants outside the uterus and previable premature rupture of membranes or PPROM, when a patient’s water breaks before the pregnancy reaches viability.

Samantha Casiano, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, testified about her experience carrying a fetus to term that had anencephaly — when the brain and skull do not fully develop. She described giving birth to a daughter who only lived for four hours. She recalled watching her kid gasp for breath between her short life and death, according to NPR. 

Mangrum’s injunction specifically mentioned pregnancies with fatal fetal anomalies. 

The ruling said that any pregnancy with “a fetal condition where the fetus is unlikely to survive the pregnancy and sustain life after birth” is also entitled to abortion care in Texas.

A lead attorney on the case challenging the state abortion law said that attorney general’s appeal on a ruling that is aimed at saving lives is “appalling.”

“It’s never been clearer that the term ‘pro-life’ is a complete misnomer,” an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, Molly Duane, told NPR. “What our plaintiffs went through was pure torture, and the state is hell bent on making sure that kind of suffering continues.” 

Atirikta Kumar
Atirikta Kumar
Atirikta Kumar (@AtiriktaKumar) is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science at the University of Houston. Atirikta is passionate about writing about the criminal justice system and issues in order to inform the public about their communities and politics. She also writes for her college newspaper, The Cougar.

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