Wednesday October 20th, 2021 3:16AM

Texas moves to reinstate nation's toughest abortion law

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas on Friday asked a federal appeals court to swiftly reinstate the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S., which until this week had banned most abortions in the state since early September.

The request puts the Texas law known as Senate Bill 8 back before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously allowed the restrictions to move forward.

Even after U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman suspended the law Wednesday, many physicians in Texas are still declining to perform abortions, worried that doing so could put them in legal jeopardy. The result is that abortion services in Texas — which had about two dozen clinics prior to the law taking effect Sept. 1 — remain far from normal, even with the law on hold.

The law bans abortions in Texas once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks, and is enforced solely through lawsuits filed by private citizens against abortion providers — a novel approach that helped Texas evade an early wave of legal challenges.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office told the court that since the state does not enforce the law, it cannot “be held responsible for the filings of private citizens that Texas is powerless to prevent."

His office asked the court to act by Tuesday, if not sooner.

Pitman had called the law an “offensive deprivation" of the constitutional right to an abortion. The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which has warned that other GOP-controlled states may move to adopt similar measures unless the Texas law is struck down.

It is unclear how many abortions Texas clinics have performed in the short time since the law was put on hold. By Thursday, at least six abortions providers had resumed normal services or were gearing up to do so, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Prior to Pitman's blistering 113-page order, other courts had declined to stop the law, which bans abortions before some women even know they are pregnant. That includes the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, which allowed it to move forward in September without ruling on the constitutionality of the law.

One of the first providers to resume normal services was Whole Woman's Health, which operates four clinics in Texas.

“There’s actually hope from patients and from staff, and I think there’s a little desperation in that hope,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman's Health, said Thursday. “Folks know this opportunity could be short-lived."

The Texas law leaves enforcement solely up to private citizens, who are entitled to collect $10,000 in damages if they bring successful lawsuits against not just abortion providers who violate the restrictions, but anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion. Republicans crafted the law to allow retroactive lawsuits if the restrictions are set aside by one court, but later restored by another.

Hagstrom Miller said her Texas clinics called in some patients early Thursday who were on a list in case the law was blocked at some point. Other appointments were being scheduled for the days ahead, and phone lines were again busy. But some of the clinics' 17 physicians were still declining to perform abortions, fearful they might be held liable despite the judge’s order.

Pitman's order amounted to the first legal blow to Senate Bill 8, which had withstood a wave of earlier challenges. In the weeks since the restrictions took effect, Texas abortion providers said the impact had been “exactly what we feared.”

Pitman took Texas to task in his opinion.

“From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” wrote Pitman, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama.

Abortion providers say their fears have become reality in the short time that the law has been in effect. Planned Parenthood says the number of patients from Texas at its clinics in the state decreased by nearly 80% in the two weeks after the law took effect.

Some providers have said Texas clinics are now in danger of closing while neighboring states struggle to keep up with a surge of patients who must drive hundreds of miles for an abortion. Other women, they say, are being forced to carry pregnancies to term.

How many abortions have been performed in Texas since the law took effect is unknown. State health officials say additional reporting requirements under the law will not make September data available on its website until early next year.

A 1992 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court prevented states from banning abortion before viability, the point at which a fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy. But Texas’ version had so far outmaneuvered the courts because it leaves enforcement to private citizens to file suits, not prosecutors, which critics say amounts to a bounty.


Associated Press Writer Jamie Stengle contributed from Dallas.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Online Supreme Court News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Women's health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Texas moves to reinstate nation's toughest abortion law
Texas has asked a federal appeals court to swiftly reinstate the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. The request Friday comes as abortion clinics statewide resumed normal services for the first time since early September
5:18PM ( 10 minutes ago )
2 parents convicted in 1st trial of college bribery scandal
Two wealthy parents have been convicted of buying their kids’ way into school as athletic recruits
5:15PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Police detail cultish beliefs of mom charged in kids' deaths
Newly released documents from the investigation of a woman accused of conspiring to kill her children and husband reveal sordid details of a cult-like belief system of “zombies” and “vibrations."
5:15PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Biden is first president to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day
President Joe Biden has issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day
4:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump hotel lost $70M despite millions in foreign business
Former President Donald Trump’s company lost more than $70 million on his Washington, D
4:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
US legislators probing Puerto Rico power outages demand data
A U.S. House committee is demanding that the company in charge of the transmission and distribution of power in Puerto Rico release key data amid widespread outages in the U.S. territory that have outraged and frustrated many
4:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to journalists Ressa and Muratov
Journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia have won the Nobel Peace Prize
2:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
More than 130 countries reach deal on corporate minimum tax
More than 130 countries have agreed on a tentative deal that would make sweeping changes to how big, multinational companies are taxed in order to deter them from stashing their profits in offshore tax havens where they pay little or no tax
2:28PM ( 3 hours ago )
Coronavirus deaths in Russia hit new record
Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has hit a new record amid the country’s sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions
2:24PM ( 3 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Biden restores Bears Ears, other monuments cut by Trump
President Joe Biden has restored two sprawling national monuments in Utah, reversing a decision by President Donald Trump that had opened some lands for mining and development
4:23PM ( 1 hour ago )
Judge: Sentence in Capitol riot case should send message
A federal judge hopes a three-month sentence handed down after new video of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot emerged will send a message to other defendants who don’t seem to be truly accepting responsibility
3:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
Biden won't invoke executive privilege on Trump docs
President Joe Biden is not asserting executive privilege over a tranche of documents sought by a House committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol
3:02PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Americans agree misinformation is a problem, poll shows
Nearly all Americans agree that the rampant spread of misinformation is a problem
9:12AM ( 8 hours ago )
Senate avoids a US debt disaster, votes to extend borrowing
The Senate has dodged a U.S. debt disaster by approving legislation to lift the federal limit on new borrowing by nearly a half-trillion dollars
5:54AM ( 11 hours ago )
Asian stocks mixed after Wall St rises on Congress debt deal
Asian stocks are mixed as investors wait for U.S. jobs data that might influence a Federal Reserve decision on when to roll back stimulus
1:46AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
EU leaders fear Polish exit following court ruling
Senior officials from two founding members of the European Union have expressed fears that a Polish ruling that Poland's constitution has supremacy over EU laws could trigger the the country’s exit from the 27-nation bloc
7:07AM ( 10 hours ago )
Abortions resume in some Texas clinics after judge halts law
Abortions have resumed in at least six Texas clinics after a federal judge halted the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. Amy Hagstrom Miller is the president of Whole Woman's Health, which has four clinics in Texas
11:48PM ( 17 hours ago )
Court rules Polish Constitution has primacy over EU laws
Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that Polish laws have supremacy over those of the European Union in areas where they clash
2:52PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Supreme Court News
California first to let kids add parents to insurance plans
California is the first state to let some adult children add parents as dependents on their insurance plans
3:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
Colorado woman who won't get vaccinated denied transplant
A Colorado woman has been denied a kidney transplant because she won't be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to her religious views
2:11PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Russia reaches record daily virus deaths again
Russia’s daily coronavirus death toll has hit a record 936 deaths amid the country’s sluggish vaccination rate and the government’s reluctance to tighten restrictions
8:54AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Health
All in: Panthers, Barkov agree on 8-year, $80M extension
Aleksander Barkov and the Florida Panthers have agreed on an $80 million, eight-year contract extension with an annual cap hit of $10 million
4:36PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Stock indexes closing lower as jobs data sparks uncertainty
U.S. stock indexes are closing lower Friday after a weak jobs report sparked questions about when the Federal Reserve could pare back its immense support for the markets
4:31PM ( 57 minutes ago )
India's Tata Sons wins bid for national carrier Air India
Tata Sons, India’s oldest and largest conglomerate, will be the new owner of the country’s debt-laden national carrier, Air India
4:10PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
AG hopes to press anew for struck-down Kentucky abortion law
Kentucky’s Republican attorney general is seeking another shot at defending an embattled 2018 law in court
10:17PM ( 1 day ago )
Biden lifts abortion referral ban on family planning clinics
The Biden administration is reversing a ban on abortion referrals by federally funded family planning clinics
12:05AM ( 3 days ago )
Oklahoma judge blocks 2 abortion laws, allows 3 others
An Oklahoma judge has temporarily blocked two new anti-abortion laws from taking effect next month, including a measure that would prevent abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy
6:12PM ( 3 days ago )
AP Health - Women's health
Wall Street opens flat as September jobs report disappoints
U.S. stocks are opening mixed on Friday after a disappointing jobs report thudded onto Wall Street and raised questions about whether the Federal Reserve will change its timeline to pare back its support for markets
9:44AM ( 7 hours ago )
Mystery lingers around cause of California oil pipeline leak
What caused a 13-inch crack in an oil pipeline off the Southern California coast that fouled famed surfing beaches
2:47AM ( 14 hours ago )
India staring at power crisis with coal stocks down to days
An energy crisis is looming over India as coal stockpiles grow perilously low, adding to challenges for a recovery in Asia's third largest economy from the pandemic
2:26AM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: US health experts urge flu shots ahead of season
The U.S. is gearing up for the flu season on top of the continuing COVID-19 crisis
2:36PM ( 1 day ago )
Hungary offers to care for Romanian COVID-19 patients
Hungary has offered neighboring Romania help in caring for coronavirus patients as the country faces an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases and a shortage of intensive care beds
12:06PM ( 1 day ago )
Ban on negotiating Medicare drug prices under pressure
Negotiating Medicare drug prices is a linchpin of President Joe Biden's ambitious health care agenda
3:03PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Health Care
2 parents convicted in 1st trial of college bribery scandal
Two wealthy parents have been convicted of buying their kids’ way into school as athletic recruits
5:15PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Police detail cultish beliefs of mom charged in kids' deaths
Newly released documents from the investigation of a woman accused of conspiring to kill her children and husband reveal sordid details of a cult-like belief system of “zombies” and “vibrations."
5:15PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Boosters, employer mandates drive increase in US vaccines
The number of Americans getting COVID-19 vaccine shots is nearing an average of 1 million per day
5:12PM ( 16 minutes ago )
NFL reacts strongly to reported Gruden racist email comment
The NFL reacted strongly and quickly Friday to a report that Jon Gruden used a racist comment about NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith in an email 10 years ago
5:01PM ( 27 minutes ago )
IS bomber kills 46 inside Afghan mosque, challenges Taliban
An Islamic State suicide bomber has struck a mosque packed with Shiite Muslim worshippers in northern Afghanistan
4:59PM ( 30 minutes ago )