Another Legal Battle Lost in the Fight for Abortion Rights
While ACLU fights for a few more weeks of abortion services, providers look to haven states
The legal skirmishes that could have bought Texans a few more weeks of legal abortion care – at least in pregnancies up to six weeks – have so far failed to do that.
Texas' "trigger" law will ban all abortions, except to save the life of the mother, 30 days after the Supreme Court enters its official judgment in a case overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (that's Dobbs v. Jackson, decided in late June; the official judgment comes a few weeks after the opinion). Despite the fact the Texas Legislature wrote its trigger law with this lead time built in, Attorney General Ken Paxton squawked that he would start arresting evil abortionists immediately, under the old pre-Roe statute from 1925 criminalizing the procedure.
That 1925 law had been previously interpreted as having been repealed, and in response to motions filed by the ACLU of Texas and the Center for Reproductive Rights, a Harris County judge had issued a temporary restraining order barring the law's enforcement until a full hearing on the matter July 12. But as often happens, Paxton – who gave his entire agency the day off to celebrate the Dobbs decision – got the Texas Supreme Court to rule otherwise and stay the temporary restraining order. "Pro-life victory!" Ken Paxton tweeted July 2. "SCOTX has slapped down the abortion providers and the district court carrying their water. Our state's pre-Roe statutes banning abortion in Texas are 100% good law."
Amy Hagstrom Miller, the founder and CEO of Whole Woman's Health, took to Instagram to share a statement that had already gone out to the organization's abortion providers. She said their Texas clinics have begun winding down abortion services but that WWH still provides abortion care at clinics in other states, which can send medication to induce an abortion via mail.
"We are relieved that we built our Wayfinder program to help people denied abortion care find their way to the places where that abortion may be legally provided," Hagstrom Miller wrote. "But, today, all of these post-Roe initiatives are bittersweet; for something has been lost in the USA this week that is fundamental to our equality, liberty, freedom, and autonomy ... an epic backslide of human rights."
Predictably, haven state clinics appear to be busier than ever. The Texas Tribune reported July 1 that the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health in Albuquerque was flooded with calls from Texas women seeking abortions, and because of the demand, four-week waits for abortions could render some patients unable to use medication rather than a surgical procedure.
Importantly, none of Texas' laws against abortion penalize those receiving care, only those providing or aiding it. The Chronicle is regularly updating its abortion resources guide, which includes providers of mailed abortion pills and other reproductive care. Visit the guide at: bit.ly/3uraw8A.