In flurry of court activity, rulings on abortion bans mixed

by mcdix

A federal court on Tuesday allowed Tennessee to ban abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. In Texas — which already imposes a similar ban based on heart activity — a judge temporarily blocked the entry into force of an even stricter law spanning decades. The moves epitomize a flurry of activity that sparked in courthouses nationwide after the U.S. Supreme Court overthrew Roe v. Wade and ruled that terminating a pregnancy is not a constitutional right. As a result of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, there are now statewide bans or other restrictions that remained on the books for generations, tied down by legal challenges or specifically designed to take effect should Roe fall. About half of the states are expected to ban or severely restrict the procedure now that the Supreme Court has left it up to them.

Since Friday, judges have agreed to allow bans or other restrictions to take effect in Alabama, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. But some states, including Louisiana, Texas, and Utah, have temporarily blocked abortion bans. Decisions are pending in other places, including Florida and Indiana. Abortion rights advocates also dropped some legal efforts in Minnesota and Missouri. Some clinics initially turned away patients shortly after the Supreme Court ruling but reopened when the judges ruled in their favor. That happened Tuesday in Louisiana. And in Texas, at least one abortion provider said it would reopen after the court ruling gave assurances it could resume procedures for at least a few more weeks without risking prosecution.

Texas bans most abortions after about six weeks — before many women know they’re pregnant — under a law that went into effect in September that makes no exceptions in rape or incest cases. But a judge in Houston, a Democratic city in a conservative state, has provisionally blocked enforcement of an even stricter law requiring a nationwide ban on virtually all abortions. That law has been on the books for decades but was annulled while Roe was in effect.


In Tennessee, the action of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes on an injunction that also specifically halts abortion once heart activity is detected before a “trigger law” is expected to further restrict abortion in mid-August, according to a legal interpretation by the Attorney General of the United States. The state. Both measures would make performing an abortion a criminal offense and impose up to 15 years in prison on doctors.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the gates to a wave of lawsuits. One side is pushing for the early implementation of statewide bans, while the other is trying to stop or at least delay such measures. Much of the judicial activity has focused on “trigger laws” passed in 13 states tesigned to take effect soon after last week’s ruling. Additional lawsuits may also target old anti-abortion laws that remained on the books in some states and were not enforced under Roe. Newer abortion restrictions suspended pending the Supreme Court ruling are also coming into play.

In Wisconsin, the Democratic Attorney General filed a lawsuit Tuesday against an abortion ban that has been on the books for 173 years. With Roe being brought down, abortion opponents said the old law is now in effect, and abortion providers in the state have stopped offering the procedure. But Attorney General Josh Kaul argued that an abortion-friendly statute passed in 1985 would replace the older law. Abortion rights supporters gathered at the South Carolina Statehouse on Tuesday. Merritt Watts, who moved to South Carolina from California last year, said that if she still lived in California, she would have “completely different rights.” “I used to think of red states as someone else’s problem, but it’s not,” said the Charleston resident. “They deserve what Californians have.”

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