Texas judge temporarily lifts abortion ban after lawsuit!

Austin, Texas - A Texas judge issued a temporary injunction order Friday siding with a group of women and doctors who brought a lawsuit challenging the state's abortion bans.

A Texas judge sided with a lawsuit brought by Amanda Zurawski (c.) and four other plaintiffs against the state's abortion ban.
A Texas judge sided with a lawsuit brought by Amanda Zurawski (c.) and four other plaintiffs against the state's abortion ban.  © IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

The case, filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, argues that the state's abortion bans lack clarity as to how medical exceptions are defined. They say this has caused a "health crisis" and made doctors fearful of prosecution.

In her ruling, Judge Jessica Mangrum agreed the women were "delayed or denied access to abortion care because of the widespread uncertainty regarding physicians' level of discretion under the medical exception to Texas's abortion bans."

She ordered that physicians cannot be prosecuted for exercising their "good faith judgment." Per her ruling, doctors should be allowed to determine what they felt constituted medical emergencies that would risk a woman's "life and/or health (including their fertility)."

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The temporary injunction is effective immediately, and the judge has set a trial date for March 2024. However, under Texas law, a ruling is automatically stayed as soon as it is appealed, meaning Friday's injunction is likely to be blocked once the state appeals.

Texas judge lifts abortion ban after emotional hearing

An abortion rights advocate holds a sign outside the Texas State Capitol building during the nationwide Women's March, in Austin, Texas, U.S. October 2, 2021.
An abortion rights advocate holds a sign outside the Texas State Capitol building during the nationwide Women's March, in Austin, Texas, U.S. October 2, 2021.  © REUTERS/ EVELYN HOCKSTEIN

The court in Austin heard harrowing testimony from the plaintiffs last month. The lead plaintiff, Amanda Zurawski, described how she went into life-threatening septic shock after her water broke very early in her pregnancy. She was denied an abortion, despite the fact that miscarriage was inevitable. Zurawski said her doctor told her that she "couldn't intervene because the baby's heart was still beating and inducing labor would have been considered an illegal abortion."

This suit is the first brought on behalf of women denied abortions since SCOTUS overturned the constitutional right to the procedure in June 2022.

Texas physicians found guilty of providing abortions face up to 99 years in prison, fines of up to $100,000, and the revocation of their medical license.

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A state "trigger" ban went into effect when Roe v. Wade was overturned. The law prohibits abortions even in cases of rape or incest. Furthermore, Texas law allows private citizens to sue anyone who performs or aids an abortion.

Texas AG makes bizarre claim

This lawsuit is asking that the court create a binding interpretation of the "medical emergency" exception. It also argues that physicians should be allowed to exercise "good faith" judgments on the qualifying conditions for an abortion, rather than leaving the decision to state lawmakers.

The Texas attorney general's office, on the other hand, says the measures sought by the complaint would effectively nullify its bans, but made a bizarre claim about the possible consequences.

The medical exception proposed by the plaintiffs "would, by design, swallow the rule," its lawyers argued in their written response. "It would, for example, permit abortions for pregnant females with medical conditions ranging from a headache to feelings of depression."

Cover photo: IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

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