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Texas Health-Care Providers Face Abortion-Law Whiplash

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Monday, October 11, 2021   

HOUSTON - Two court rulings in one week over the controversial Texas abortion law have providers questioning how to proceed.

Last Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of the law. But on Friday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the near-total abortion ban - the strictest in the nation - to again be enforced. The law bans almost all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest.

ACLU of Texas staff attorney Adrian Piñon believes the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which protects a pregnant person's ability to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, should supersede the Texas law known as Senate Bill 8.

"Every single lawsuit that is brought under SB 8 should be thrown out of the courthouse," she said, "because the behavior that's being penalized is fully legal."

SB 8 also allows people to take a doctor, health center or anyone who helps another person access abortion to court, with a $10,000 reward for each abortion, to be paid by the person who is sued. Three of the four San Antonio clinics that provide abortion care told the Texas Tribune last week that, to avoid lawsuits, they have temporarily stopped offering it.

Like many other U.S. laws, Piñon said, the Texas statute has the greatest impact on the most marginalized residents - those who are young or low-income, and people of color. She noted that time-sensitive abortion procedures already are affecting providers in other states.

"The number of people who are going from Texas to Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico has increased," she said, "which then delays the time-sensitive care across the board."

A poll by Monmouth University in September found 62% of Americans say abortion should either always be legal or legal with some limitations.


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