A Texas judge issued an order late Friday temporarily barring the state from enforcing its ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy in cases where a patient’s life or health could be endangered by an “emergent medical condition.”
District Judge Jessica Mangrum ruled the law is ambiguous enough to make it difficult for women to obtain abortions, even when facing serious medical complications.
The law “has created an imminent risk that Physician Plaintiffs and other physicians throughout Texas will have no choice but to bar or delay the provision of abortion care to pregnant persons in Texas for whom an abortion would prevent or alleviate a risk of death or risk to their health (including their fertility) for fear of liability under Texas’s abortion bans,” the ruling reads.
The order comes after the judge heard several days of testimony last month from women who say Texas law forced them to continue with high-risk pregnancies.
One plaintiff, Samantha Casiano, said she was forced to give birth to her daughter despite a diagnosis of anencephaly, a rare birth defect where parts of a baby’s skull and brain are missing. Casiano’s child died four hours after birth.
“All she could do was fight to try to get air,” Casiano testified in court. “I had to watch my daughter go from being pink to red to purple.”
Lawyers for the state argued in court there was already an adequate exception in the statute for life-threatening pregnancies and blamed doctors for misinterpreting the law.
First Assistant Attorney General Brent Webster said in a statement the state filed an appeal that “stays an activist Austin judge’s attempt to override Texas abortion laws pending a ruling by the Texas Supreme Court.”
Texas has one of the strictest abortion laws in the country, and access was curtailed even further following the US Supreme Court’s landmark decision to overturn the federal right to abortion last summer. After the high court’s ruling, a trigger law in Texas banned all abortions other than those intended to protect the life of the mother. Before the ruling, Texas banned abortions in 2021 beyond six weeks of pregnancy.
The lawsuit was filed by Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of two doctors and 13 women who suffered complications in pregnancy.
“Today’s ruling should prevent other Texans from suffering the unthinkable trauma our plaintiffs endured,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
CNN’s Isabelle Chapman, Michelle Watson and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.