Texas abortions can resume after judge blocks pre-Roe v Wade ban

Several states wrestling with 'trigger laws' banning abortion after Supreme Court ruling

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Abortions can resume in Texas after a judge blocked officials from enforcing a nearly century-old ban the state's Republican attorney general said was back in effect after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide.

The temporary restraining order by Judge Christine Weems in Harris County came in a last-ditch bid by abortion providers to resume services after the US Supreme Court on Friday overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that guaranteed women's right to obtain abortions.

The order allows clinics to resume services — for now — in a state where abortion was already severely restricted to only up to six weeks of pregnancy under a Texas law that took effect in September that the Supreme Court declined to block.

“Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory,” Marc Hearron, a lawyer for the abortion providers at the Centre for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Twitter said he was immediately appealing the judge's “wrong” decision, saying the pre-Roe laws “are 100 per cent in effect and constitutional”. A further hearing is scheduled for July 12.

The decision came amid a flurry of litigation in state courts by abortion rights groups seeking to slow or halt abortion restrictions that are now taking effect or are poised to do so in 22 states.

Those states include 13 that, like Texas, enacted so-called trigger laws designed to take effect if Roe v Wade was overturned, the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group, reported.

Following the Supreme Court's decision, federal courts have been lifting orders blocking Republican-backed abortion restrictions. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court cleared the way for a six-week ban in Tennessee to take effect.

The lawsuit was filed the same day that judges in Louisiana and Utah blocked officials from enforcing their states' “trigger” bans, and abortion providers in Idaho, Kentucky and Mississippi sued to obtain similar relief.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court in a 8-1 decision on Monday rejected a request by providers to block implementation of a near-total ban on abortions that took effect in May, before the US Supreme Court's ruling but after a draft version of the decision was leaked.

In Iowa, where the state's top court ruled the state constitution does not include a “fundamental right” to abortion, Republican Governor Kim Reynolds on Tuesday said she will ask a court to reinstate a previously struck down “foetal heartbeat” law banning abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.

Updated: June 29, 2022, 6:08 PM
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