HOUSTON, Texas — A Texas district court judge in Houston issued a verbal order allowing abortions to resume in some clinics across the state. The judge will issue a written order later on Tuesday.
281st District Court Judge Christine Weems handed down a verbal order from the bench stating that abortion clinics that are listed in the lawsuit may once again perform abortions, the Austin American Statesmanreported. The news outlet reported the hearing was scheduled to be live-streamed but a staffer said the judge decided not to have it broadcast. The court advised that a written order would follow later on Tuesday.
The attorney for Texas Alliance for Life, Paul Linton, told the Texas Tribune he expects Weems’ decision to be overturned by a higher court. He argued that the laws that are still on the books pre-dating the Roe v. Wade SCOTUS ruling in 1973 should still be in force.
“I don’t think it has any merit,” Linton told the Tribune. “I don’t think there’s any plausible argument that the laws have been expressly repealed, and the repeal-by-implication argument, I think, is very weak.”
If Weem’s order stands, it will only provide relief to those abortion providers that filed the lawsuit on Monday. These include the Center for Reproductive Rights, Whole Woman’s Health, Alamo City Surgery Center, Brookside Women’s Medical Center, Houston Women’s Clinic, Houston Women’s Reproductive Services, and the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, according to the Statesman.
The order from Weems would also only be in effect until Texas “trigger” laws come into effect. The law bans most abortions in Texas and takes effect 30-days after the Supreme Court’s ruling is formally issued. The Tribune reports the court’s formal judgment is usually handed down about 25 days after the announcement. The Texas ban on abortions would kick in after that, Breitbart Texas reported.
The Tribune reports:
The lawsuit filed Monday notes that the pre-Roe abortion ban “was expressly declared unconstitutional in Roe and has been absent from Texas’s civil statutes for decades.” The Texas Legislature website also notes that the ban was “held to have been impliedly repealed” in a 2004 case.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an advisory on Friday authorizing prosecutors to “pursue criminal prosecutions based on violations of Texas abortion prohibitions predating Roe that were never repealed by the Texas Legislature. Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law. Under these pre-Roe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.”
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.
Following the Weems’ order on Tuesday, some abortion providers could resume services.
Marc Hearron, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a written statement, “This decision will allow abortion services to resume at many clinics across the state, connecting Texans to the essential health care they need. Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory.”