Abortion Returns in Texas After Judge Orders Cancellation of Act

Abortions soon resumed at at least six clinics in Texas after a federal judge overturned the US’s strictest abortion law. But a number of other doctors are still reluctant to do so, fearing the court order will not last long and expose them to legal risks again.

It was unclear how many abortion clinics in Texas resumed operations Thursday after District Judge Robert Pitman overturned the law, known as Senate Bill 8, which since early September banned abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of gestation. Prior to the 113-page order on Wednesday evening, other courts had refused to overturn a law banning abortion even before mothers-to-be knew they were pregnant.

“There’s really hope from patients and staff, and I think there’s a bit of desperation in that hope,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas. He said some of the clinics performed abortions Thursday but did not disclose the number.

“People know this opportunity could be short-lived,” he continued. The ruling did not immediately bring things back to normal in Texas.

At least six clinics in Texas restarted abortion services Thursday or are preparing to offer them again, said Kelly Krause, a spokeswoman for the Center for Reproductive Rights. There were about two dozen abortion clinics in Texas before the no-abortion law went into effect on September 1.

The Texas law leaves enforcement solely in the hands of citizens, who are entitled to $10 thousand if they succeed in filing a lawsuit against not only abortion service providers who violate the restrictions, but anyone who helps a woman have an abortion. The Republican faction drafted the law in a way designed to also allow for retroactive lawsuits if the legislation was overridden by one court but then reinstated by another.

The Office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is from the Republican faction, had notified Texas of an intention to appeal but had not done so as of Thursday. [uh/ab]

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