Protestors Challenge Abortion Ban as Oral Arguments Begin

( — In 2021, the Texas Legislature passed what is known as a trigger law that would go into effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned or if abortion legislation fell solely under state decision in any other way. It would ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with a built-in clause that allowed abortion in order to save the life or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function” of the mother.

When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June of 2022, abortion-related trigger laws went into effect in 13 states. A lower court judge placed an injunction on enforcement of the ban in August, but now the injunction is on hold while the matter is brought to the Texas Supreme Court. Texas Assistant Attorney General Beth Klusmann says that the injunction was unnecessary and that doctors should be able to navigate exceptions using their own good-faith judgment. The Center for Reproductive Rights has brought a lawsuit to the Texas Supreme Court over the issue.

Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer Molly Duane said in a statement for the plaintiffs that they are just looking for guidance about what conditions those exceptions may be made without endangering medical providers who fear legal retribution by the state. The lawsuit was filed in March by five women and two doctors. Later, an additional 15 women joined the lawsuit with complaints about how the ambiguity of the law had already affected them.

The women involved in the lawsuit say they were denied abortions even though they had medical difficulties that could lead to poor outcomes for their health. Several plaintiffs said they were forced to get their medically necessary abortions out of state despite the exemption clause. The lawsuit alleges that doctors are refusing to perform abortions that would qualify as exemptions because they fear their judgment may be called into question, and they could lose their medical licenses or even face prison time.

Texas Assistant Attorney General Klusmann does not believe the women in this case have grounds to sue the state but suggested they would be better off suing the doctors who denied them medically necessary abortions for medical malpractice.

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