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Texas Supreme Court hears arguments in challenge to abortion law

Texas Supreme Court holds hearing for case challenging abortion laws
Texas Supreme Court holds hearing for case challenging abortion laws 02:47

AUSTIN ( - On Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the state's controversial abortion law. 

The case reached the state's highest court after the attorney general filed an emergency appeal last August.

At the time, a state district judge issued a ruling that would have allowed more exemptions for women to have an abortion if they have medically complicated pregnancies.

The case is about whether the state's law is too vague and women can even take the state to court.

Lauren Miller, a plaintiff from Dallas, told reporters outside court, "I place the blame firmly at the feet of the state."

She is one of 20 women and two doctors who sued the state of Texas in March.

At the state Supreme Court, the Texas Attorney General's Office argued the women have no standing to sue the state, and instead, should have filed medical malpractice claims against their doctors.

Beth Klusmann, representing the attorney general's office said, "Some of the women appear to have fallen in the exception but their doctor still said no. That's not the fault of the law, that's the decision of the doctor."

CBS News Texas first met Miller in March, after she and others filed suit. She said she had to travel out of state to get an abortion after her doctor discovered one of the twin boys Miller was expecting was placing the other's life and Miller's life at risk.

Miller said Tuesday her doctor is the wrong person to sue. "Here's my doctor. I don't know what more they want. She's standing here along side me, she's a fabulous doctor." 

If doctors perform abortions when they're not supposed to, they could face prison time, fines, and losing their medical licenses.

She and other plaintiffs said the reason doctors wouldn't perform their necessary abortions is because the state law was too vague.

Molly Duane of the Center for Reproductive Rights told the justices, "While there's technically medical exceptions to the bans, no one knows what it means, and the state won't tell us."

In May, the legislature passed House Bill 3058 to clear up any confusion over what is considered "medically necessary."

But the attorney general's office said the law was always very clear, and that abortions could be performed only if the mother's life was at risk.

Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values agreed. 

"The fact that the legislature decided to, out of an abundance of caution and consideration address these issues and make it even more clear to eliminate any doubt is not an indication that the law was not already sufficient to begin with."

The plaintiffs ultimately want to kill the state's law. 

"People who are pushing this litigation want to see pro-life laws overturned. They would love the opportunity to do that with these particular circumstances in bringing this particular case forward."

Saenz said he remains confident the Texas Supreme Court will rule in the state's favor.

Duane told reporters they believe abortion is a human right and a moral good, and that they're feeling positive as well.  "We are optimistic that the court heard us, heard them, and saw them."

Legal experts said the Texas Supreme Court will likely rule on this case before June.

The case will then go back to the lower state court for consideration.

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