Texas Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Pro-Life Law

Couple with hands on pregnant belly
Loving Couple Expecting and Holding Belly | Image by White Cat Photo/Shutterstock

An injunction placed against Texas’ abortion restrictions by a trial court was vacated in a unanimous higher court ruling on Friday.

The Supreme Court of Texas found the state’s Human Life Protection Act constitutional, overturning the lower court’s temporary block on the law’s enforcement, according to the opinion delivered by Justice Jane Bland.

“Texas law permits a life-saving abortion,” the opinion reads. “Under the Human Life Protection Act, a physician may perform an abortion if, exercising reasonable medical judgment, the physician determines that a woman has a life-threatening physical condition that places her at risk of death or serious physical impairment unless an abortion is performed. The law permits a physician to intervene to address a woman’s life-threatening physical condition before death or serious physical impairment are imminent.”

The plaintiffs in the case — the Center for Reproductive Rights, two physicians, and several Texas women allegedly impacted by the law — had filed a complaint last year, arguing that the state’s abortion restrictions needed “an interpretation … that permits life-saving abortions” and rewriting in order “to change the circumstances in which Texas law must permit an abortion.”

The Texas women behind the lawsuit purportedly faced life-threatening complications during their pregnancies but were allegedly unable to find Texas doctors to perform the abortions due to “fear of legal consequences.”

When a trial court granted a temporary injunction of the abortion law in March 2023, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded by filing an appeal directly to the Texas Supreme Court that August.

Paxton celebrated the court’s decision to uphold the abortion law in a press release.

“Today, the Supreme Court of Texas unanimously upheld the Human Life Protection Act, one of our state’s pro-life laws,” Paxton said. “I will continue to defend the laws enacted by the Legislature and uphold the values of the people of Texas by doing everything in my power to protect mothers and babies.”

The state’s abortion ban has come under scrutiny, leading to efforts to clarify the language to better identify exceptions. For instance, last year, the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, which occur when an egg implants outside a woman’s uterus and is thus non-viable and dangerous to her health, was designated as being legally distinct from an abortion.

As recently reported by The Dallas Express, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) also weighed in recently at the behest of petitioners asking for “clear guidance” on medical exceptions to the state’s abortion laws.

TMB proposed a new rule that defined “medical emergency” to determine better when an abortion can be lawfully performed; however, the new rule was criticized by some as lacking in answers to physicians’ concerns about being found criminally liable for performing an abortion.

The penalty for a physician unlawfully performing an abortion includes the loss of their medical license and as many as 99 years in prison.

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