The clinics say they are proceeding with caution because a state law imposing a near ban on abortion allows retrospective lawsuits if the injunction is reversed.
As of Thursday morning, women over six weeks pregnant flocked to Whole Women’s Health Clinic at 8 a.m. for an abortion, said group founder Amy Hagstrom Miller.
Whole Women’s Health clinics are now busy making calls and emails from patients who have previously been turned away and who had not previously called because their pregnancies were more than six weeks old, Ms Miller said. He said the clinics saw patients for the first appointment on Thursday and scheduled for abortions on Friday, in keeping with the state’s 24-hour waiting period.
Many patients are concerned to learn that the injunction may only be in place for a short window. He said it would take time to meet the outstanding demand.
“There’s really hope and a little bit of frustration from the patients and staff,” Ms Miller said.
Despite the injunction, other providers did not immediately return to performing abortions, fearing a provision in SB8 that could allow lawsuits to be filed retrospectively, the clinics said. Many would be comfortable only if the Supreme Court upholds the injunction.
Linda Schafer, administrator of the Aaron Women’s Clinic in Houston, said the clinic’s doctor opted to continue to comply with Texas heartburn law until an appeals court ruled. “Of course there’s still a fear of lawsuits, so we’re sticking to the six-week thing,” she said.
Ms Schafer said sticking to that line is difficult for staff who have to deal with distressed patients. “There are patients who shed tears, they cannot afford to go anywhere else. It’s terrible,” she said.
In response to the Justice Department’s legal challenge, U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman in Austin issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law on Wednesday, saying the state “entitles its citizens to an important and well-established constitutional right.” an unprecedented and aggressive plan” was adopted. “
Texas lawmakers designed the measure so that it would be difficult to challenge in court by preventing state officials from enforcing the law. Instead, the law entrusts enforcement to private parties and authorizes civil damages of $10,000 or more to anyone who successfully sues a defendant accused of performing or aiding in such abortion.
Supporters of the Texas abortion law said they would appeal the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in the hope of overturning the decision. He warned abortion providers that they could be prosecuted for abortions that took place between this week’s injunction and any possible reversal of it.
“The Texas Heartbeat Act is still in effect,” said state Sen. Brian Hughes, the bill’s author. “Anyone who performs or assists in an abortion after a heartbeat in Texas is subject to trial in federal court, and if this injunction is vacated or remains on appeal, they may also be sued in state court.” will be run.”
Molly Duane, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Women’s Health as a whole, said the risk of future lawsuits was real because a provision in the original bill says it defends relying on protection for a doctor. Not there. Injunction which is later reversed.
“This provision remains a serious concern for physicians and clinics across the state, but what we can tell you today is that there are independent providers across the state working to open up full services. And are so mindful of the fact that the Fifth Circuit could lift this injunction at any time,” Ms Duane said.
write to Elizabeth Findell [email protected] . Feather