The Texas Supreme Court blocked a lower court order that allowed clinics in the state to continue performing abortions even afterwhich asserted a constitutional right to abortion.
It was not immediately clear whether clinics in Texas that resumed performing abortions just days ago would halt services again following the ruling late Friday night. A hearing is scheduled for later this month.
Texas clinics turning away patients, rescheduling, and now potentially canceling appointments again — all within a week — illustrates the confusion and scramble that has occurred across the country since Roe v. Wade was scrapped.
A Houston judge’s order Tuesday reassured some clinics that abortions can temporarily resume up to six weeks into a pregnancy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was quick to ask the state Supreme Court, staffed with nine Republican justices, to temporarily suspend the order.
“These laws are confusing, unnecessary and cruel,” Mark Heron, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, said after the order was issued Friday night.
Clinics in Texas – which has a population of about 30 million people – have stopped performing abortions after the US Supreme Court last week overturned Roe v. Wade. Texas left an abortion ban on books for the past 50 years while Roe was in effect.
Texas Clinics lawyers provided a copy of Friday orderwhich was not immediately available on the court’s website.
Meanwhile, more than half of Texans make abortion legal in most cases in their state, and most believe that women still seek abortions, despite the Supreme Court ruling and local laws, according to the.
Abortion providers and patients across the country struggle to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and accessibility.
In Florida, a law banning abortion after 15 weeks went into effect on Friday, the next dayof the state constitution and said he will sign a temporary order blocking the law next week. The ban could have broader repercussions in the South, where Florida has broader access to the measure than its neighbors.
Abortion rights were lost and restored within a few days in Kentucky. A so-called trigger law imposing a near-total ban on the procedure went into effect last Friday, but a judge blocked the law on Thursday, meaning the state’s only abortion providers can resume seeing patients — for now.
The legal row is almost certain to continue to wreak havoc for Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings fluctuating access at any moment and an influx of new patients from out-of-state providers.
Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans in place, they may have fewer options to terminate their pregnancy because the prospect of prosecution follows.
Planned Parenthood Montana this week stopped offering medical abortions to patients living in states with bans “to reduce potential risks to providers, health center staff, and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”
Planned Parenthood in the north-central states, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, tells its patients that they must take both pills in the system if they allow for an abortion.
The use of the abortion pill has been the most common way to terminate a pregnancy since 2000, when the US Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the main drug used in medical abortion. If it is taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes contractions and empties the uterus, it forms the abortion pill.
“There is a lot of confusion and concern that providers are at risk, and they are trying to limit their liability so they can provide care to people who need it,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, who directs the research group Advancing New Standards. in Reproductive Health from the University of California, San Francisco.
In an “unknown and ambiguous” legal environment, they decided to tell patients they should be in a situation where it would be legal to complete a medical abortion — which requires taking two drugs 24 to 48 hour. She said most patients from states that have been banned are expected to opt for surgical abortion.
Access to pills has become a major battle in abortion rights, as the Biden administration prepares to say states cannot ban a drug that has won Food and Drug Administration approval.
Kim Florin, 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 anyway is to scare people,” Florin said of state bans on abortions and telemedicine for medical abortion. “The logistics of actually enforcing these is a nightmare, but they are dependent on the fact that people are going to be afraid.”
It went into effect Friday threatening criminal punishment for anyone who prescribes abortion medication without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical Examiners and Osteopaths.
In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it was reviewing whether people or groups could face prosecution to help women fund and travel to out-of-state abortion appointments.
Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women cover abortion and travel costs, said it was temporarily on hold for two weeks due to a lack of clarity under state law.
“This is a pause, and we’ll find out how we can legally save you money and resources and what that looks like,” said Kelsey MacLean, director of healthcare access at Yellowhammer.
Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Members, said staff at her clinics have seen women drive from as far away as Texas without stopping — or making an appointment. She said that women over the past 15 weeks were asked to leave their information and promised to call back if a judge signed an order temporarily blocking the ban.
However, there is a concern that the order may only be temporary and that the law may go into effect again at a later time, creating more confusion.
“It’s horrible for patients,” she said. “We’re really worried about what’s going to happen.”