A Texas judge ruled on Friday that the state’s abortion prohibition is overly restrictive for women with major pregnancy difficulties, and that the legislation must provide for exceptions in which doctors are not afraid about criminal charges.
The judgment by State District Judge Jessica Mangrum is the first to challenge Texas’ abortion legislation since it went into force last year following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which permitted states to set their own abortion regulations. Supporters of abortion access see Texas as a possible model for loosening restrictions in other Republican-led states with abortion prohibitions.
The case is also thought to be the first in the country lodged by women denied abortions after the Supreme Court’s ruling. According to the state attorney general’s office, the order was immediately blocked by an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court. “The trial court’s injunction is ineffective, and the status quo remains in effect,” said Paige Willey, a spokesperson.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Judge rules Texas abortion ban too restrictive for women with serious pregnancy complications, orders changes to law.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 5, 2023
Mangrum’s decision granted a temporary restraining order, blocking Texas from implementing the ban against physicians who use “good faith judgment” to terminate a pregnancy that poses a danger of infection or is otherwise unsafe for the woman to continue due to problems.
The order also applies to pregnant women who have an illness that is “exacerbated by pregnancy” and cannot be successfully addressed. Furthermore, the judgment applies in cases where the fetus has a defect that makes survival after birth unlikely.
“For the first time in a long time, I cried with joy when I heard the news,” said lead plaintiff Amanda Zurawski in a statement. “This is precisely why we did it. This is why we put ourselves through the agony and misery of sharing our stories and the harms created by these heinous laws.” Mangrum stated that the injunction would remain in effect until the matter was resolved. The case’s trial is set to begin on March 25.
However, the state’s urgent appeal, according to First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster, “stays an activist Austin judge’s attempt to override Texas abortion laws pending a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court.”
The immediate impact of Friday’s verdict is also unknown, as the state’s abortion facilities have all closed in the last year. The judge ruled that elements of the abortion law infringed pregnant women’s constitutional rights.
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The women who challenged the ban were found to have had “emergent medical conditions” during their pregnancies that jeopardized their health or lives and necessitated abortion care. According to the ruling, they were delayed or refused abortion access due to concerns that physicians might face criminal penalties for performing abortions.
“Today’s decision should prevent other Texans from going through the unimaginable trauma that our plaintiffs went through,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which assisted in bringing the action. Follow us The Current Online for more updates