AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge ruled Friday that the state’s abortion ban has proven too restrictive for women with serious pregnancy complications and should allow exceptions without doctors fearing criminal charges.
The ruling is the first to undermine the Texas law since it went into effect in 2022, and marks a major victory for abortion rights advocates, who see the case as a potential blueprint for weakening restrictions elsewhere that Republican-led states have been rushing to lift. have entered.
“For the first time in a long time, I cried with joy when I heard the news,” lead prosecutor Amanda Zurawski said in a statement. “This is exactly why we did this. This is why we put ourselves through the pain and trauma over and over again to share our experiences and the damage caused by these terrible laws.”
This is believed to be the first lawsuit in the US brought by women who have been denied abortion since the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, which had upheld the constitutional right to abortion for nearly 50 years.
The state is expected to appeal soon and has argued that Texas’s ban already allows for exceptions, rendering doctors’ fears of prosecution unfounded.
“Today’s ruling should prevent other Texans from suffering the unthinkable trauma our prosecutors endured,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which helped bring the lawsuit. “It would be unconscionable for the state of Texas to appeal this ruling.”
The immediate impact of district judge Jessica Mangrum’s decision was unclear in Texas, where all abortion clinics have closed their doors for the past year. During two days of emotional testimony in an Austin courtroom, women shared heartbreaking stories of learning their babies would not survive birth and were unable to travel long distances to states where abortion is still legal .
The court has been clear: doctors must be able to provide patients with standard care in case of pregnancy complications. That standard of care is abortion in certain cases because it is essential, life-saving health care. This decision is a victory for Texans with pregnancy complications, but Texas still denies the right to abortion care to the vast majority of those who seek it.”
The challenge, filed in March, is not to repeal Texas’ abortion ban, but to bring more clarity to when exceptions are allowed under the law, which is one of the strictest in the US.
Under Texas law, doctors who perform abortions face life in prison and fines of up to $100,000. Opponents say this has left some women with caregivers who won’t even talk about terminating a pregnancy.
According to a poll published in late June by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs, the majority of American adults, including those living in states with the strictest limits on abortion, want it to be legal at least during the first stages of pregnancy. Research.