The Supreme Court of Texas (EE.UU.) restored on Friday night a 1925 law that prohibits abortion and that the state attorney general had ordered to be implemented after the federal Supreme Court ended the protection of abortion.
The Texas Supreme Court’s ruling only temporarily restores the law while a final decision is reached.
In practice, what the court did was to block the ruling of a lower court that had prevented the entry into force of the law at the request of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented clinics that perform abortions.
The 1925 law establishes a sentence of up to 5 years in prison for those doctors who help a woman to interrupt her pregnancy. The legislation prohibits abortion in cases of incest or rape and only establishes an exception in case the life of the mother is in danger.
That law went into effect before the 1973 Supreme Court ruled that states could not interfere with a woman’s decision about her pregnancy in Roe v. Wade.
Last week, the conservative-majority Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, ending federal abortion protections and giving states permission to set their own rules.
Automatically, states like Texas began to implement the so-called “zombie laws” that had been proclaimed before the Supreme Court guaranteed the right to abortion in 1973, while other states activated “spring laws” so called because they were designed to enter into force just when the right to abortion was repealed.
Specifically, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, ordered all Texas prosecutors to criminally prosecute any doctor who helps a woman terminate her pregnancy.
When a lower court blocked his order Tuesday, Paxton appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.
Texas, one of the states with the most restrictions on abortion, had two laws at its disposal when the Supreme Court issued its ruling: the 1925 law that has now been restored and another that currently prohibits abortion until six weeks of pregnancy, when many women don’t even know they are pregnant.
“These laws are confusing, unnecessary and cruel,” attorney Marc Hearron of the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement as the Supreme Court issued its ruling Friday night.
On the ground, the situation in Texas is one of confusion as both patients and doctors do not know what regulations are or are not in force.
Abortion is currently illegal in 7 of the 50 US states: Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana and Utah had also announced their intention to ban abortion, but the Justice blocked the implementation of the laws that prohibit that right.
The Planned Parenthood organization, which runs the largest network of reproductive health clinics in the US, estimates that 26 states will end up banning the right to abortion, in a matter of days, weeks or months.
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