Oct. 8, 2021 -- Though a federal judge has blocked a strict Texas abortion law, most state abortion providers say they’ll still respect the dictates of the law because they fear litigation if it’s put back into effect.
Linda Shafer, administrator at Aaron Women’s Clinic in Houston, told The Wall Street Journalthat the clinic’s doctor wanted to wait until the case works its way through the court system.
“There’s definitely still fear of lawsuits, so we’re sticking to the 6-week thing,” she said.
The Texas law that went into effect Sept. 1 prohibits abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically after 6 weeks.
But Whole Woman’s Health, which operates four clinics in Texas, told the Journal it began scheduling abortions early Thursday morning for women pregnant more than 6 weeks.
The women planned to come in Friday for the procedure, in accordance with the state’s mandated 24-hour waiting period, said Amy Hagstrom Miller, the group’s founder.
“There’s actually hope from patients and staff, and there’s a little bit of desperation,” she said.
The New York Times reported that most of the 24 abortion providers in Texas decided they would not perform abortions on women pregnant more than 6 weeks because the state law allows clinics to be sued retroactively.
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, author of the heartbeat bill, said abortion providers could still face litigation.
“Anyone who performs or assists a post-heartbeat abortion in Texas remains subject to lawsuits in federal court, and they will also be sued in state court if this injunction is vacated or stayed on appeal,” he told the Journal.
Planned Parenthood, which operates seven clinics, said it’s not going to break the 6-week limit.
“Today we are not scheduling abortion appointments past 6 weeks while we figure out what is possible,” Ianthe Metzger, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told the Times.
On Wednesday, a federal district court judge in Austin sided with the Biden administration and granted the Justice Department’s request to halt enforcement of the new law while the law moves through the court system. Texas said it would appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.