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Texas judge grants abortion exemption to women with pregnancy complications; state AG's office to appeal ruling

Texas judge rules against state's abortion bans
Texas judge rules that women with pregnancy complications are exempt from state's abortion bans 00:20

A judge in Texas ruled late Friday that women who experience pregnancy complications are exempt from the state's abortion bans after more than a dozen women and two doctors had sued to clarify the laws.

"Defendants are temporarily enjoined from enforcing Texas's abortion bans in connection with any abortion care provided by the Physician Plaintiffs and physicians throughout Texas to a pregnant person where, in a physician's good faith judgment and in consultation with the pregnant person, the pregnant person has an emergent medical condition requiring abortion care," Travis County Judge Jessica Mangrum wrote. 

However, the state attorney general's office filed an "accelerated interlocutory appeal" late Friday to the Texas Supreme Court. In a news release Saturday, the state attorney general's office said its appeal puts a hold on Mangrum's ruling "pending a decision" by the state Supreme Court. 

Thirteen women and two doctors filed a lawsuit earlier this year in Travis County, which includes Austin, to clarify the exemptions in Texas' abortion law. Mangrum's ruling comes two weeks after four of the plaintiffs testified about what happened after they were denied abortion care despite their fetuses suffering from serious complications with no chance of survival. 

Magnum wrote that the plaintiffs faced "an imminent threat of irreparable harm under Texas's abortion bans. This injunction is necessary to preserve Plaintiffs' legal right to obtain or provide abortion care in Texas in connection with emergent medical conditions under the medical exception and the Texas Constitution."    

The lawsuit, which was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, is believed to be the first to be brought by women who were denied abortions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.  

Amanda Zurawski, left, and Samantha Casiano spoke about the impact of Texas' abortion law at a hearing in Austin, Texas, on July 19, 2023. Caroline Linton / CBS News

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office, which defended the law, had argued the women lacked the jurisdiction to sue. The attorney general's office had asked the state to dismiss the lawsuit because "none of the patients' alleged injuries are traceable to defendants." 

Paxton is currently suspended while he awaits a trial by the state Senate after he was impeached. 

Samantha Casiano, who was forced to carry a pregnancy to term, even though her baby suffered from a condition doctors told her was 100% fatal, testified in July that her doctor told her that she did not have any options beyond continuing her pregnancy because of Texas' abortion laws.

"I felt like I was abandoned," she said. "I felt like I didn't know how to deal with the situation." 

Casiano, who has four children, had to carry the baby to term, and her baby daughter died four hours after birth. In describing how she couldn't go to work because she couldn't bear the questions about her baby and visible pregnancy, Casiano became so emotional that she threw up in the courtroom. The court recessed immediately afterward.

The lawsuit had argued that the laws' vague wording made doctors unwilling to provide abortions despite the fetuses having no chance of survival.   

Mangrum wrote in her ruling that "emergent medical conditions that a physician has determined, in their good faith judgment and in consultation with the patient, pose a risk to a patient's life and/or health (including their fertility) permit physicians to provide abortion care to pregnant persons in Texas under the medical exception to Texas's abortion bans."

Texas has some of the strictest abortion bans in the country. SB8 bans abortions in all cases after about six weeks of pregnancy "unless the mother 's life is in danger." House Bill 1280, a "trigger law," went into effect after Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, making it a felony for anyone to perform an abortion. 

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