What Is Going on with Abortion Access in Texas Right Now?

The 6-week abortion ban in Texas, S.B.8, is in effect again after an appeals court issued an emergency stay Friday evening.

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  • The 6-week abortion ban in Texas, S.B.8, is in effect again after an appeals court issued an emergency stay Oct. 8.
  • During the 48-hour window, some abortion care providers in Texas offered services to women who were more than 6 weeks pregnant.
  • Next, the appeals court will decide if it will grant a longer stay that will keep S.B.8 in effect.

The 6-week abortion ban in Texas, known as S.B.8, is back in effect after an appeals court issued an emergency stay on Oct. 8 after a judge temporarily blocked the law on Oct. 6.

During the 2 days in which S.B.8 was blocked, a few pregnant patients more than 6 weeks pregnant could receive abortion care services in the state.

On Oct. 8, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the temporary stay, meaning the ban was back in effect. Abortion care providers ceased services again to comply with the 6-week abortion ban.

“What that means is that Texas’ 6-week abortion ban is in effect again for now. While [the court] considers the state’s request for a longer stay pending appeal, they froze it temporarily,” Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a victims and women’s rights attorney based in Dallas, told Healthline.

Abortion care for many is paused indefinitely

Within the 48-hour window in which S.B.8 was blocked by Judge Robert Pitman, some patients who were more than 6 weeks pregnant were able to receive abortions.

Last week, Texas-based abortion care provider and advocacy organization Whole Woman’s Health tweeted that they were providing abortions again under Pitman’s ruling.

During the same time, Planned Parenthood Greater Texas provided services to seven patients before the ban went into effect again on Oct. 8.

When the temporary stay was issued, most providers halted abortion care after 6 weeks of pregnancy again, according to Tuegel.

According to a Planned Parenthood spokesperson, there were 23 patients scheduled for Oct. 9 that could not be seen due to the decision from the appeals court.

“Now that S.B. 8 is back in effect, we are once again forced to turn away more patients who need us, creating chaos and confusion in our health center. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has failed Texans by allowing the state to continue depriving its citizens of constitutionally protected health care and lifting the preliminary injunction that had blocked this cruel law for just two days,” Melaney Linton, president & CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, said in an email statement.

Linton added that the patients scheduled for care on Oct. 9 once again lost access to healthcare services overnight.

Planned Parenthood will continue to fight for permanent relief from S.B.8.

Dr. Tamika Cross, a board certified OB-GYN in the Houston area and co-owner of Serenity Women’s Health & MedSpa, says all abortion providers she has spoken with halted services on Oct. 8. Many have also avoided making recommendations to abortion clinics out of state.

“This law has made providers fearful of being sued for treating patients and holding true to the Hippocratic oath,” Cross told Healthline.

What happens next?

In addition to requesting the emergency stay that put S.B.8 into effect again, the state of Texas also appealed Pitman’s order blocking the ban.

According to Tuegel, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on the appeal requested by Texas.

The appeal ordered by Texas is essentially for a longer stay that would keep S.B.8 in effect.

“The temporary stay that the 5th circuit granted on Friday night could communicate that their longer decision on their full stay pending appeal will be similar,” Tuegel said.

The circuit court has asked the Justice Department to weigh in by Oct. 12.

Expert advice for pregnant people in Texas

When most people find out they are pregnant, it is already past the 6-week mark when cardiac activity can be detected.

“My recommendation is for patients to continue to follow the stories as well as discuss [options] with their healthcare provider,” Cross said.

Tuegel emphasized that women in Texas seeking abortions will not be punished under S.B.8.

S.B.8 overhauls the entire system that provides abortions — doctors, social workers, people who give women rides to the appointment — but it does not penalize the pregnant people.

Tuegel’s advice for pregnant people in Texas is to not be silent or paralyzed from acting.

“Do not be afraid to look for it both inside or outside of the state,” Tuegel advised.

The bottom line:

The 6-week abortion ban in Texas, S.B.8, is in effect again after an appeals court issued an emergency stay late on Oct. 8. Judge Robert Pitman issued a ruling on Oct. 6 that blocked the ban. During the 48-hour window in which S.B.8 was blocked, some abortion care providers in Texas offered services to women who were more than 6 weeks pregnant. Most if not all abortion providers halted services again on Oct. 8 when the ban went back into effect. Next, the appeals court will decide if it will grant a longer stay to keep S.B.8 in effect.

This story originally appeared on: Healthline.com - Author:Julia Ries