By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) -A Texas judge on Tuesday blocked officials from enforcing a dormant 1925 abortion ban that the state’s Republican attorney general said was back in effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide.
The temporary restraining order by Judge Christine Weems in Harris County came in a last-ditch bid by abortion providers to resume services after the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that guaranteed the right of women to obtain abortions.
The order was confirmed by the ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented the abortion providers. Abortion up to six weeks of pregnancy can now resume in Texas at some clinics, the legal groups said.
“Every hour that abortion is accessible in Texas is a victory,” Marc Hearron, a lawyer at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
Abortion was already severely restricted in Texas after the six-week ban that the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court did not block took effect in September.
A further hearing is scheduled for July 12. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The decision came amid a flurry of litigation by abortion rights groups seeking to slow or halt Republican-backed restrictions on the ability of women to terminate pregnancies that are now taking effect or are poised to do so in 22 states.
Those states include 13 that like Texas enacted so-called “trigger” laws designed to take effect if Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy research group.
Paxton in an advisory issued after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled said the state’s 2021 trigger ban, which bars abortions almost entirely, would not take immediate effect. Providers say that could take two months or more.
But Paxton, a conservative Republican, said prosecutors could choose to immediately pursue criminal charges against abortion providers based on a different, old statute that had gone unenforced while Roe v. Wade was on the books but that remained Texas law.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in BostonEditing by Bill Berkrot)