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Texas abortion providers sue Attorney General Ken Paxton over abortion ban enforcement

patient in doctor's office
Michael Stravato
/
For The Texas Tribune
Multiple Texas abortion providers argued in a lawsuit filed against Attorney General Ken Paxton that any pre-Roe ban on abortion in Texas died when the Roe v. Wade decision made such bans unconstitutional in 1973.

Texas abortion providers are trying to win back the last weeks of legal abortion in Texas with a new lawsuit against Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Paxton issued an advisory Friday saying the state’s abortion bans in place before Roe v. Wade are enforceable now that the landmark Supreme Court decision has been overturned.

Multiple Texas abortion providers filed a lawsuit against Paxton in Harris County District Court on Monday afternoon. In the lawsuit, they argue that any pre-Roe ban on abortion in Texas died when the Roe decision made such bans unconstitutional in 1973.

“We're hoping that our legal team can prove that and at least buy a reprieve for at least another 30 to 55 days, possibly, for us to continue to see patients," said Marva Sadler with Whole Woman’s Health, one of the providers suing Paxton.

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out nearly 50 years of legal precedent on Friday when it knocked down Roe v. Wade, the case that gave federal protection to abortion rights.

Texas has a “trigger law” in place that will ban abortions 30 days after the court issued its judgment, but Paxton’s advisory halted abortions in the state right away.

The legal confusion surrounding the enforcement of abortion bans is also affecting organizations that help people pay for abortions.

The Lilith Fund in Central Texas and the Texas Equal Access Fund in North Texas have stopped giving out funding while they figure out what is allowed under state law. Both organizations say they are trying to protect their employees and volunteers from criminal prosecution.

“We are working diligently to get clarity on what services and information sharing we can safely resume and when,” said Texas Equal Access Fund Executive Director Kamyon Conner in a statement.

Whole Woman’s Health has paused abortions at its clinics in Fort Worth, McKinney, Austin and McAllen, but it is still operating the Abortion Wayfinder Program, Sadler said.

That program helps pay for out-of-state travel to another Whole Woman’s Health clinic that is located in an abortion haven state.

Travel is still not a solution for everyone, Sadler said.

"Traveling outside of your state to receive care is not going to be an option for many women, and many women will be forced into being a parent,” she said.

The Wayfinder Program has helped more than 85 people get an abortion out of state, Sadler said. The program began after the Texas state legislature passed a near-total ban on abortion last year.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

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Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Fort Worth reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.