The Harris County judge granted a temporary restraining order Tuesday to block a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion ban in Texas, signaling a small victory for abortion rights groups.
The judge’s order was in response to a lawsuit filed Monday by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union and two Texas law firms on behalf of several abortion clinics.
Under the temporary restraining order, abortions up to six weeks can resume in the state at some clinics, according to the ACLU.
“Every day that clinics can remain open will save countless people from the life-altering risks and consequences of forced pregnancy,” the group said in a statement following the order.
All abortions in the state were immediately halted following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, ending a federal constitutional right to abortion. The ruling sparked protests across the country while abortion clinics and centers shut down.
Several states, Texas, set trigger laws either banning abortions entirely or severely restricting when the procedure can happen.
The ACLU said that while Texas’ trigger law — which outlaws abortion almost entirely — does not go into effect for 30 days after the decision, abortion providers were told by the state’s attorney general that they could immediately be held criminally liable for providing abortions under Texas laws the predate Roe v. Wade.
Adriana Piñon, acting legal director for the ACLU of Texas, said the lawsuit was to help “extend care for people” in the state.
“We will continue using every tool we have, on every front we can: you will hear us at the legislature; you will also hear us on the streets because Texans deserve autonomy,” Piñon said in a statement Monday.
In a joint statement from Planned Parenthoods from across the state, including chapters in Greater Texas, Gulf Coast and South Texas, the organization said it was not a plaintiff in the legal challenge and has not summarized abortion care in Texas.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation and legal teams are still reviewing this order and its potential implications for Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas,” the statement said.
“Just like other abortion providers, Planned Parenthood affiliates in states that are extremely hostile to abortion access are being forced to make difficult operational decisions based on their own unique considerations due to their state’s legal landscape.”
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, said in a statement that calls were made to patients on waiting lists, and staff and providers were brought back into clinics so abortion care could resume in Texas.
Four clinics in the state will reopen, Hagstrom Miller said.
“Any day that we are able to provide the abortions Texans need and deserve is a good day! This TRO means that we now have the opportunity to open our doors in Texas before the trigger ban takes effect a month or two from now,” the statement said.
“We must still comply with Texas regulations like the 6 week ban, the 24 hour waiting period and the two visit requirement, so even this win is heavily restricted.”
Defendants named in the lawsuit include state Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Texas Medical Board.
The temporary restraining order will remain in effect until a July 12 hearing.
On Monday, judges in Louisiana and Utah temporarily blocked trigger law bans on abortion in those states.
Orleans Parish Civil District Judge Robin Giarrusso granted the request of plaintiffs Hope Medical Group for Women and Medical Students for Choice, leading to the immediate resumption of the procedure.
In Utah, the state’s Third District Judge Andrew Stone granted a 14-day temporary restraining order requested by the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
“There is irreparable harm that has been shown,” Stone said. “Affected women are deprived of safe, local medical treatments to terminate pregnancies.”
Trigger laws were also being challenged in Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky and Mississippi.
Chloe Atkins and Antonio Planas contributed.