That injunction didn’t cover everything.
As state officials appealed a federal judge’s order blocking a portion of Texas’ new abortion law, a prohibition against performing the procedure after 20 weeks of pregnancy quietly took effect Tuesday.
While the ban will affect only a small percentage of abortions in Texas, abortion rights proponents say the new restriction will mean that women who learn late about serious birth defects or face life-threatening conditions themselves no longer will have the option to terminate their pregnancies.
Previously, abortions could be performed up to the 24th week, except to save the life of the mother.
Meanwhile, Texas on Tuesday joined 12 other states that have enacted bans on abortions after 20 weeks, though courts have blocked the laws in two of those states.
A 13th state, Arizona, banned abortions after 18 weeks; that law has been blocked by a federal appeals court, which ruled the law violated a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy before viability, or when a fetus can survive outside the womb.
Courts previously have recognized 24 weeks as the point of viability.
Arizona has appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is scheduled to decide soon whether to review that case.
Janet Crepps, lead attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights’ legal challenge in Texas, said her organization did not challenge the 20-week ban in Texas because it was more concerned about restrictions that could force clinics to close.
Back when the lawsuit was first filed, there was no indication that the 20-week ban was going to be challenged. I guess you can only fight so many battles at once. There is litigation over this coming from other states, so when all that inevitably makes it to the Supreme Court we’ll get a ruling one way or the other anyway. But between this and the rejection of the claims about the new restrictions on medical abortions, let’s not forget that the injunction granted on Monday was only a partial victory, and depending on what the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals does, possibly a very fleeting one. It’s still all about winning more elections. For more on where things stand now with HB2, see Dahlia Lithwick, Scott Lemieux, and The Makeshift Academic.