Texas Supreme Court cleared way to uphold nation’s most restrictive abortion law
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court cleared the way on Friday to uphold the nation’s toughest abortion law in a ruling that once again deflated clinics’ hopes of stopping — or even suspending — restrictions anytime soon.
The all-Republican court ruling is the latest defeat for Texas abortion providers, who have now lost in both the U.S. Supreme Court and the state’s highest court since a ban on abortion abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy came into force in September.
It is likely to further embolden other Republican-controlled states now lobbying with similar laws, including neighboring Oklahoma, where many Texas women have crossed state lines to have abortions over the past of the last six months. The Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate on Thursday approved half a dozen anti-abortion measures, including a Texas-style ban.
The Texas Supreme Court ruling focused on whether medical licensing officials had an enforcement role under the law known as Senate Bill 8 and, therefore, could be pursued by clinics that are looking for any possible way to end the restrictions.
But writing for the court, Judge Jeffrey Boyd said these state officials had no enforcement powers, “neither directly nor indirectly.”
Texas abortion providers did not immediately comment on the decision, but had previously acknowledged they were running out of options and the law would remain in place for the foreseeable future.
The U.S. Supreme Court signaled in a separate Mississippi case that it would strike down abortion rights and possibly overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade, in a decision expected later this year.
The number of monthly abortions in Texas fell more than 50% in the two months after the law took effect, according to public health figures. But that data only tells part of the story, and researchers say the number of Texas women going online to get abortion pills by mail has risen sharply.
Texas law makes no exceptions for rape or incest.