Texas Supreme Court blocks order that resumed abortions

The ACLU says the new order states that a Texas abortion ban can be enforced through civil lawsuits for now, but not criminally.

___ THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below. TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Abortion providers and patients struggled Friday to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access across the country since the Supreme Court of States United overturned Roe v. Wade last week.

In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily blocking the law. next week. The ban could have wider implications in the South, where the state has wider access to the procedure than its neighbors.

Abortion rights were lost and regained in a matter of 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 two abortion providers can start seeing again. patients – for now.

In Texas, abortions up to six weeks have resumed at some clinics after a Houston judge ruled patients still have that right, at least until a new ban on virtually all abortions comes into effect. force in the coming weeks. But the state has asked the Texas Supreme Court to block that order and allow prosecutors to enforce an abortion ban now, adding to the uncertainty.

Legal wrangling is almost certain to continue to wreak havoc on Americans seeking abortions in the near future, with court rulings capable of upending access at any time and an influx of new patients from overwhelming providers. from out of state.

Even when women travel outside states where abortion is banned, they may have fewer options for terminating their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them.

Planned Parenthood of Montana this week stopped providing medical abortions to patients who live in prohibited states “to minimize potential risks to providers, health center staff, and patients in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.”

Planned Parenthood North Central States, which offers the procedure in Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska, tells its patients they must take both diet pills in a state that allows abortions.

“There’s a lot of confusion and concern that providers might be at risk, and they’re trying to limit their liability so they can provide care to people who need it,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, who leads the Advancing New Standards research group. in reproductive health at the University of California, San Francisco.

Emily Bisek, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood North Central States, said that in an “unknown and murky” legal environment, they decided to tell patients that they must be in a state where it is legal to complete the abortion. medicated – which requires taking two medications 24 to 48 hours apart. She said most patients in banning states should opt for surgical abortions.

The use of abortion pills has been the most common method of terminating a pregnancy since 2000, when the United States Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, the main drug used in medical abortions. Taken with misoprostol, a drug that causes cramps that empty the uterus, it is called the abortion pill.

Access to pills has become a key battle in abortion rights, with the Biden administration preparing to argue that states cannot ban a drug that has received FDA approval.

Kim Floren, who runs an abortion fund in South Dakota called the Justice Empowerment Network, said the development would further limit women’s choices and likely mean more would travel to Colorado for an abortion.

“The purpose of these laws is to scare people off anyway,” Floren said of state bans on abortions and telemedicine consultations for medical abortions. “The logistics of getting them enforced is a nightmare, but they’re counting on people being scared.”

A South Dakota law went into effect Friday that threatens criminal punishment for anyone who prescribes abortion drugs without a license from the South Dakota Board of Medical and Osteopathic Examiners.

Republican Governor Kristi Noem, a vocal opponent of abortion, said in a statement that “doctors who knowingly break the law and prescribe these drugs to end human life will be prosecuted.”

In Alabama, Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office said it is considering whether individuals or groups could be prosecuted for helping women fund and attend abortion appointments outside of the state. ‘State.

Yellowhammer Fund, an Alabama-based group that helps low-income women with abortion and travel costs, said it was suspending operations for two weeks due to unclear state law. .

“This is a temporary pause, and we will work out how we can legally get money and resources to you and what that looks like,” said Kelsea McLain, director of healthcare access at Yellowhammer.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, said staff at her clinics have seen women driving from as far away as Texas without stopping or making appointments. Women who are past 15 weeks are asked to leave their information and promised to be called back when a judge signs the order temporarily blocking the restriction, she said.

Still, there are fears that the ordinance is only temporary and that the law could come into force again later, creating further confusion.

“It’s terrible for the patients,” she says. “We’re really nervous about what’s going to happen.”

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Thickets reported in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. AP writers Dylan Lovan contributed from Louisville, Kentucky; Miami’s Adriana Gomez Licon; and Kim Chandler of Montgomery, Alabama.

Anthony Izaguirre and Stephen Groves, Associated Press