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State Supreme Court Ruling Dooms Challenge to Texas Abortion Law

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MARCH 11, 2022

AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 02: Demonstrators rally against anti-abortion and voter suppression laws outside the Texas State Capitol on October 2, 2021 in Austin, Texas. The Women’s March and other groups organized marches across the country to protest the new abortion law in Texas. (Photo by Montinique Monroe/Getty Images)

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday dealt yet another blow to abortion providers, ruling that state licensing officials lack the authority to enforce the a controversial abortion ban beyond six weeks of pregnancy.

“We conclude that Texas law does not grant the state-agency executives named as defendants in this case any authority to enforce the Act’s requirements, either directly or indirectly,” Justice Jeffrey Boyd wrote.

The unanimous ruling effectively brings an end to abortion providers’ lawsuit against the controversial Texas law, which incentivizes regular citizens to sue anyone whom they suspect “aids or abets” an abortion – including health care workers, providers or anyone who helps someone access abortion services after six weeks of pregnancy – a mechanism that makes it harder, experts say, for advocates to challenge the measure.

“The Texas Supreme Court has ended the lawsuit from abortion providers against SB 8,” Planned Parenthood’s Texas branch wrote in a tweet Friday. “This means that SB 8 will stay in place indefinitely – leaving Texans with extremely limited access to abortion. It’s been 6 months. We’ve had enough.”

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a procedural element of the controversial Texas law, later determining that abortion clinics could keep up their challenge in lower federal courts while significantly limiting who can be listed as a defendant in a case. The high court then sent challenges to the Texas law to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals before they were later sent to the Texas Supreme Court.

The Texas abortion ban, in place since Sept. 1, has become among the nation’s strictest abortion policies and spurred attempts to introduce copycat legislation in at least a dozen states. Oklahoma on Thursday became the second state to advance a bill mimicking the Texas measure through one chamber of its legislature, following the Idaho Senate’s vote to approve their own copycat bill last week.

Nevertheless, Texans are still finding ways to get abortions. Two recent studies suggest that the number of abortions obtained has fallen by just around 10% despite restrictive abortion policies in the state due to large increases in the number of Texans who have ordered abortion pills online or traveled out of state.

But among the hoards of recent bills restricting abortion that have been introduced in states are attempts to limit the ability to access abortion pills by mail, while abortion opponents are perhaps finding ways to thwart leaving the state as well. A Missouri lawmaker attached an amendment to several bills in recent weeks that would use a mechanism similar to the Texas law’s to sue anyone who aids a woman in seeking an abortion out of state.

The development comes as states appear to be gearing up for a new abortion frontier, brashly introducing restrictions and flouting current precedent as they await another abortion ruling from the high court that could alter abortion’s trajectory expected this summer.


Courtesy/Source: US News & World Report

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