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Paxton Asks Texas Supreme Court to Vacate Order Allowing Abortions to Continue

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to the media | Image by The Guardian

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Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an emergency motion on Thursday, asking the Texas Supreme Court to vacate a temporary restraining order that blocked the enforcement of the state’s pre-Roe v. Wade laws criminalizing elective abortions. 

As reported by The Dallas Express, Harris County District Judge Christine Weems issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday to stop the state from enforcing the pre-Roe abortion ban after abortion providers filed a lawsuit. With the ruling, those providers can temporarily continue performing pre-six-week abortions without the threat of prosecution.

The lawsuit argued that the pre-Roe abortion ban “was expressly declared unconstitutional in Roe and has been absent from Texas’s civil statutes for decades.” Additionally, it noted that the Texas Legislature website says the pre-Roe laws were “held to have been impliedly repealed” in a 2004 case.

The restraining order will last until at least July 12, when another hearing is scheduled for Judge Weems to issue a permanent order. Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court to consider his emergency motion by July 6.

In his emergency motion, Paxton argues the state legislature never repealed the preexisting state laws that banned abortion decades before Roe v. Wade existed. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned the ruling in Roe, the old laws should be enforced, argues Paxton.

The attorney general said the Harris County court that issued the temporary restraining order was wrong because the plaintiffs lacked standing and made claims barred by sovereign immunity.

Paxton said in a statement that abortion providers could face prosecution after the temporary restraining order is no longer in effect.

“The trial court was wrong to enjoin enforcement of Texas’s longstanding prohibitions on elective abortion,” Paxton said. “Let there be no mistake: the lower court’s unlawful order does not immunize criminal conduct, which can be punished at a later date once the temporary restraining order is lifted. My office will not hesitate to act in defense of unborn Texans put in jeopardy by plaintiffs’ wrongful actions and the trial court’s erroneous order.”

The U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, ending the right to an abortion. Texas has a “trigger law” that bans abortion in the state, which is set to go into effect 30 days after the high court issues an official judgment, which could be another month or longer. 

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