Jul 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas Supreme Court blocks order allowing abortions to resume

Abortion rights protesters

Abortion rights demonstrators during a rally in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, June 26. Photo: Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday night barred clinics from performing abortions, days after a lower court ruling said a pre-Roe ban did not forbid them from seeing patients, the Associated Press reports.

Driving the news: The decision opens the door for civil enforcement of a ban on the procedure in the state, but does not permit criminal enforcement of that prohibition, per the AP.

Why it matters: What's happening in Texas illustrates the confusion for people seeking access to abortion following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The ruling, which dashed the constitutional right to an abortion, gave states the power to enact restrictions or enshrine protections for the procedure.

  • Whether Texas clinics that had begun scheduling appointments with people seeking abortions would halt services again was not immediately clear, per AP.
  • Texas had an abortion ban on the books dating to 1925, even while the landmark precedent Roe established was still in place, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

Catch up fast: Following the overturning of Roe, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton put out an advisory stating that "abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today” based on the state’s “abortion prohibitions predating Roe."

  • Earlier this week, a Houston judge gave permission to clinics that they could resume performing the procedure up to six weeks into pregnancy.
  • Paxton asked the state’s supreme court for a temporary hold on the lower court judge’s order, leading to Friday night's decision.
  • A hearing on the matter is scheduled for later this month.

Situational awareness: Texas also has a "trigger" law that will take effect later this month. Doctors could face life in prison and fines up to $100,000 if they perform abortions.

Go deeper: Roe v. Wade summary: Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade

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