Abortion providers and patients in Texas were again thrown into disarray by a court decision, this time rebooking appointments they had canceled just days before.
“Can you get here today?” executive administrator Andrea Gallegos asked each woman. “Just come as soon as you can,” she said, aware that the state could file an appeal at any time.
The clinic performed 10 abortions Tuesday, Gallegos said, and it has scheduled more patients for Wednesday. Clinics that had sued the state, including Alamo, had stopped their abortion procedures Friday but raced to take advantage of a fleeting reprieve Tuesday after Harris County Judge Christine Weems (D) ruled that a pre-Roe ban enforced by Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) and prosecutors would “inevitably and irreparably chill the provision of abortions in the vital last weeks in which safer abortion care remains available and lawful in Texas.”
People seeking abortions and the providers are not optimistic for another chance in Texas. A “trigger ban” is scheduled to take effect 30 days from last week’s Supreme Court decision. Paxton has also vowed to appeal Tuesday’s decision. Harris County Attorney Christian D. Menefee (D) said the restraining order will last until the next hearing, scheduled for July 12, unless it is extended. But it is “irrelevant” once the trigger ban takes effect, he said.
Before last week’s Supreme Court decision, Texas had already restricted abortions to the first six weeks of pregnancy, when many women do not yet realize they are pregnant.
Texas is one of 13 states with trigger bans, designed to take effect if Roe were struck down, but Paxton had issued an advisory that prosecutors could pursue criminal cases under an unenforced 1925 law before the trigger ban began.
Victoria, a 25-year-old single mother who was turned away from Houston Women’s Reproductive Services on Friday, had prepared to travel to Chicago for her abortion when she got a call from the clinic Tuesday afternoon.
“Come in at 2:30,” said the woman on the phone. “We’ll do it today.”
Victoria, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition that only her first name be used to protect her privacy, almost immediately got in her car. She worried that the laws might change again before she arrived.
“I don’t know how long this will stick,” she said. “But I’m so relieved I got in.”
The Texas abortion law’s enforcement mechanism empowers people to sue anyone who helps facilitate an abortion.
Whole Woman’s Health and its nonprofit organization Whole Woman’s Health Alliance said they will reopen four clinics in Texas once they have the staffing.
“We immediately began calling the patients on our waiting lists and bringing our staff and providers back into the clinics in order to resume abortion care as soon as possible,” President and CEO Amy Hagstrom Miller said in a statement. “Keep in mind, Texas still enforces a two-visit requirement and a 24-hour waiting period, as well as the 6 week ban and other restrictions. Even with these obstacles, our clinic staff are ready and eager to welcome patients back.”
Her organizations were plaintiffs in the request for a temporary restraining order against the state.
Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, which also sued state officials, will resume offering abortions and is “in close touch with our legal team to make sure we change course as this continues to unfold in the court,” spokeswoman Robin Sikes said.
Roe v. Wade and abortion access in America
What happens next?: The legality of abortion will be left to individual states. That likely will mean 52 percent of women of childbearing age would face new abortion limits. Thirteen states with “trigger bans” will ban abortion within 30 days. Several other states where recent antiabortion legislation has been blocked by the courts are expected to act next.
State legislation: As Republican-led states move to restrict abortion, The Post is tracking legislation across the country on 15-week bans, Texas-style bans, trigger laws and abortion pill bans, as well as Democratic-dominated states that are moving to protect abortion rights enshrined in Roe v. Wade.
How our readers feel: In the hours that followed the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Washington Post readers responded in droves to a callout asking how they felt — and why.