Two of the primary providers in Texas ceased performing abortions on Friday after the Attorney General warned they could be prosecuted immediately.
“Some prosecutors may choose to immediately pursue criminal prosecutions based on violations of Texas abortion prohibitions predating Roe that were never repealed by the Texas Legislature,” AG Ken Paxton said in a written opinion issued following the court’s ruling. “Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law,” Paxton wrote. “Under these pre-Roe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.”
While the decision to overturn Roe v. Wadetriggered a 2021 Texas law banning nearly all abortions after a 30-day waiting period, Paxton’s statement caused abortion clinics to cease operations Friday.
Planned Parenthood Texas and Whole Woman’s Health announced that legal uncertainty in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling eliminated the constitutional protection for abortions, the Texas Tribune reported.
“We must pause abortion services at our separate organizations while our legal teams continue to review today’s devastating ruling and how it impacts and triggers existing Texas laws, including total abortion bans,” Jeffrey Hons, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas said in a statement published by the Tribune.
The news outlet reported that Whole Woman’s Health temporarily halted abortion services in four Texas locations. The group is reported to be the nation’s largest abortion provider.
The Texas Tribune reported:
Jonathan Mitchell, a former solicitor general for Texas and the architect of Senate Bill 8, which banned abortions in Texas as early as six weeks, argued that the pre-Roe statute is immediately enforceable in Texas except procedures necessary to save the life of the patient.
Previously, prosecutors did not pursue charges against patients or providers under Texas’ laws because courts would not uphold convictions under Roe, he said. Now, “no such obstacle exists anymore because Roe has been overruled,” he said in a statement.
“Texas law in a post-Roe world has already been written,” Paxton concluded. “Now that the Supreme Court has finally overturned Roe, I will do everything in my power to protect the unborn and uphold the state laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature.”
Earlier in the day, Governor Greg Abbott said, “Texas has also prioritized supporting women’s healthcare and expectant mothers in need to give them the necessary resources so that they can choose life for their child,” Gov. Abbott stated. “Texas will always fight for the innocent unborn, and I will continue working with the Texas legislature and all Texans to save every child from the ravages of abortion and help our expectant mothers in need.”