DALLAS — On Friday morning, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas abortion providers can continue with lawsuits to challenge the state's six-week abortion ban, but the law itself can stay in place.
“Mostly, I feel really disappointed," Whole Woman's Health CEO and President Amy Hagstrom Miller said. “It is a win on paper, and we do have a green light to pursue litigation from here forward, but it’s been over 100 days now with this ban enforced in the state of Texas, and the impact is devastating.”
Whole Woman's Health, which operates abortion clinics in a number of states including four in Texas, filed the lawsuit that SCOTUS ruled on Friday. In its decision, the court also limited which defendants can be sued to health licensing groups like the state health department, nursing board and pharmacy board.
Texas' abortion law is written to allow private citizens to enforce it, instead of the state. Thursday, a Texas judge ruled that part of the law as unconstitutional and gave the open that Texas courts shouldn't enforce it.
Kimberlyn Schwartz, director of media and communication for Texas Right to Life, said the group doesn't believe either ruling will hinder the intended impact of the law.
“It doesn’t actually have the ability to block the law, so it’s more of a publicity move from the news yesterday, so we’re going to continue to block those lawsuits as well," Schwartz said. “The state health officials and agencies are actually not responsible for enforcing the Texas Heartbeat Act.”
Hagstrom Miller, like other Texas providers and abortion funds, said she will continue on in the legal but most clinics in the state remain closed.
"Hundreds of people have been denied care over the last three months," Miller said.
She said providers in other states have been reaching out to her about serving Texans seeking abortions.
Planned Parenthood alone reported seeing more than 1,160 Texans at its clinics in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas since September 1, when the law went into effect.
"The other states aren’t prepared to receive all the Texans that need that care," Hagstrom Miller said.
Schwartz maintained that Texas Right to Life believes that lives are being saved because of the law.
"We are going to continue to save lives every single day," Schwartz said.
When asked about the surge in people travelling to get abortions, she said Texas Right to Life's pregnancy centers have also seen an increase in visitors.
“Even if the law saves just one life, it would all be worth it," Schwartz said.
As this legal plays out, the possibility of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade next summer along with its ruling on Mississippi's abortion law, Hagstrom Miller said Friday's decision is telling.
"Who knows if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, but laws like this make ya say, 'What does it matter?,'" Hagrstrom Miller said.
“If they chip away at it this much, Roe V Wade is meaningless.”