A Texas judge granted a temporary injunction on Texas’ multiple abortion bans on Friday, allowing abortions in cases of medical emergencies and fatal fetal diagnoses while litigation continues in an ongoing lawsuit filed by women alleging Texas’ bans put their lives in danger.
The judge also denied the state’s request to throw out the lawsuit.
Texas has several abortion laws in place, prohibiting all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, except in medical emergencies, which the laws do not define. One of the bans — called SB 8 — prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected, which kept several plaintiffs from accessing care despite their pregnancies being nonviable, according to the suit.
“After much confusion around what conditions qualify as ‘medical emergencies’ under Texas’ abortion bans, today’s ruling gives clarity to doctors as to when they can provide abortions and allows them to use their own medical judgment. The Judge recognized that the women in the case should have been given abortions,” the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents women filing the suit, said in a statement Friday.
MORE: Women suing Texas over abortion bans give emotional testimony
In the ruling, Judge Jessica Mangrum said that doctors cannot be prosecuted for exercising good faith judgement and wrote that the plaintiffs should have been provided abortions.
“The Court finds that physical medical conditions include, at a minimum: a physical medical condition or complication of pregnancy that poses a risk of infection, or otherwise makes continuing a pregnancy unsafe for the pregnant person; a physical medical condition that is exacerbated by pregnancy, cannot be effectively treated during pregnancy, or requires recurrent invasive intervention; and/or a fetal condition where the fetus is unlikely to survive the pregnancy and sustain life after birth,” the judge ruled.
Mangrum also found S.B. 8 unconstitutional under the Texas constitution. She also sided with plaintiffs, writing that there is uncertainty surrounding the bans’ medical exceptions.
“The Court finds that the Patient Plaintiffs each experienced emergent medical conditions during their pregnancies that risked the Patient Plaintiffs’ lives and/or health (including their fertility) and required abortion care, but that Patient Plaintiffs were delayed or denied access to abortion care because of the widespread uncertainty regarding physicians’ level of discretion under the medical exception to Texas’s abortion bans,” Mangrum said in her ruling.
The original lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights in March and eight more women joined the lawsuit in May.
Lawyers representing the women sought a preliminary injunction on Texas’ abortion laws that would allow for lifesaving abortions. They are asking the court to provide a remedy for patients whose life health or fertility is at risk from an emergent medical condition.
“Tens of thousands of Texans have already been denied abortions. By any measure, Texas is in a health care crisis. The only issue in this case, however, is who should be getting abortions, under the medical exception to the abortion ban and two years later, still, no one knows,” Molly Duane, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights and lead attorney on the case, said in court.
Prosecutors appearing on behalf of the state of Texas claimed the lawsuit was due to dissatisfaction with medical care that the plaintiffs received and that the plaintiffs did not approve of Texas laws.
“Plaintiffs simply do not like Texas’ restrictions on abortion,” Cindy Fletcher, a representative for the state in the lawsuit, said.
Three women — Amanda Zurawski, Ashley Brandt and Samantha Casiano — gave emotional testimony last month about their personal experiences being denied abortions in Texas.
MORE: 8 women join suit against Texas over abortion bans, claim their lives were put in danger
Zurawski developed sepsis after being denied an abortion after her water broke at 18 weeks. Brandt had to travel to Colorado to receive abortion care for one of her twins after the twin was diagnosed with a fatal condition. Casiano, unable to access abortion care, had to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term and give birth to a baby who died four hours later.
Dr. Damla Karsan, an OB-GYN practicing in Texas, testified that she had several women who should have qualified for abortion care under the state’s ban but were unable to receive care.
The lawsuit alleged that Texas’ abortion bans have denied the plaintiffs and countless other pregnant people necessary and potentially lifesaving medical care because physicians in the state fear liability, according to the suit.
Under Texas’ bans, it is a second-degree felony to perform or attempt an abortion, punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.
The suit is the first to be filed by women impacted by the abortion bans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, ending federal protections for abortion rights.
The lawsuit is filed against the state of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton — who was recently impeached — and the Texas Medical Board.
Judge partially blocks Texas abortion ban for medical emergencies, fatal diagnoses originally appeared on abcnews.go.com