The fight over legal abortion has shifted to the states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last week, with at least six lawsuits in six states already filed challenging either state laws or state constitutions.
In Texas, a Harris County judge on Tuesday blocked Texas officials from enforcing a decades-old abortion ban, effectively allowing health providers to perform the procedure without the threat of prosecution.
Mary Ziegler, a professor of law at UC-Davis, joined Texas Standard with an update, saying:
– As long as Harris County Judge Christine Weems’ injunction stands, abortion providers can’t be prosecuted under the 1920s law banning abortion in Texas – until the state’s trigger law goes into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court’s judgment, which will be issued separately from last week’s opinion.
– It’s not yet known what challenges we could see to Texas’ trigger law, but there have been challenges to trigger laws in other states. In Louisiana, the focus has been on the idea of notice, “that you can’t be criminally punished unless you know what you’re being punished for or what you can and cannot do,” Ziegler said. “Abortion providers in Louisiana are arguing that the trigger law in that state is vague in crucial ways … [and] that abortion doctors don’t have enough notice about what they’re allowed to do and what they’re not allowed to do.“
– Despite the judge’s order this week – and some prosecutors in Democratic parts of the state vowing they will not enforce the trigger law – not all clinics that provide abortions have resumed services.
“A lot of doctors are aware of the fact that they could be seeing really serious consequences, from prison time to really heavy fines to lawsuits,” Ziegler said. “And they’re not confident enough in the protection offered by any of those things, whether it’s the injunction or the prosecutors, to continue opening.”