US Court of Appeal lets Texas reopen most abortion bans | Elections Ap

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A federal appeals court on Friday night quickly allowed Texas to resume the ban on most abortions just a day after clinics began caring for patients for the first time since early September.

“Patients are thrown back into a state of chaos and fear,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents several Texas clinics that have temporarily resumed normal abortion services.

She called on the US Supreme Court to “step in and stop this madness.”

The clinics had prepared for the New Orleans appeals court to act quickly on Wednesday after US District Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama Texas law suspended that he called an “offensive withdrawal” of the constitutional right to abortion. Knowing the order might not last long, a handful of Texan clinics immediately began performing abortions beyond six weeks and booked new appointments for that weekend.

It was barely 48 hours, however, before the appeals court accepted Texas’s motion to overturn Pitman’s judgment – at least for now – pending further arguments. There was the Biden administration what the lawsuit had broughtto reply by Tuesday.

“Great news tonight,” tweeted Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton. “I will fight the attacks of the federal government at every turn.”

Texas had about two dozen abortion clinics before the law went into effect on September 1. During the short time the law was put on hold, many doctors in Texas were unwilling to perform abortions for fear that it would still put them legally at risk.

The new law threatens abortion providers in Texas with lawsuits from private individuals who, if successful, can claim at least $ 10,000 in damages. This novel approach to enforcement is why Texas escaped an earlier wave of legal challenges earlier this week.

The 5th District Court of Appeals had the law enacted back in September and stepped in just hours after Paxton’s office urged them to act.

His office told the court Because the state is not enforcing the law, it cannot be “held responsible for filings from private individuals that Texas cannot prevent.”

It is unclear how many abortions Texan clinics have performed in the short time the law was put on hold. On Thursday, at least six abortion providers had resumed normal service or were preparing to do so, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

One of the first providers to resume normal service this week was Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman’s Health, said their clinics would have admitted some patients on a list early Thursday if the law were at some point blocked. Further appointments were planned for the next few days and the telephone lines were busy again. However, some of the clinics’ 17 doctors still refused to abort because of the legal risk.

Pitman’s order was the first legal blow to the law known as Senate Act 8. In the weeks since the restrictions went into effect, Texas abortion providers have reported the effects “just what we feared.”

Planned parenting says that Number of patients from Texas at its state clinics fell nearly 80% in the two weeks after the law went into effect. Some providers have said that Texan clinics are now in danger of closing while neighboring states are struggling with one Increase in patients who have to drive hundreds of miles to get an abortion.

Other women, they say, are being forced to carry pregnancies to term.

How many abortions have been performed in Texas since the law went into effect is unknown. State health officials say additional statutory reporting requirements will not make the September data available on their website until the beginning of next year.

A 1992 US Supreme Court ruling prevented states from banning abortions before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus, approximately 24 weeks after pregnancy. But the Texas version has so far outmaneuvered the courts by leaving enforcement to private individuals, not prosecutors, which according to critics is a bounty.

“This is an answered prayer,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group.

Associated Press Writer Jamie Stengle contributed from Dallas.

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