HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Abortion rights advocates in Texas got a win on Tuesday, but there's no telling how long it will last. A judge temporarily ruled people can receive early-term abortions again, but the state's attorney general is promising to appeal the decision.
"The judge's decision is wrong. I'm immediately appealing." Those words came from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement following a Harris County judge's decision to temporarily block a 1920s-era law prohibiting abortion in Texas.
"For right now, no one can file criminal charges against you. But, what happens in three weeks, or a month from now, when the Texas Supreme Court decides the trial judge made a mistake?" said Seth Chandler, a law professor at the University of Houston.
"Can prosecutors go back and, basically, prosecute someone for an action that they thought was OK? That is not an easy question, and I suspect that's why you're seeing a mixed reaction (Tuesday) from abortion providers in Texas," said Chandler.
Whole Woman's Health is one of the providers that sued to seek Tuesday's temporary restraining order. Its president and CEO, Amy Hagstrom Miller, released the followings statement:
"Any day that we are able to provide the abortions Texans need and deserve is a good day! This TRO means that we now have the opportunity to open our doors in Texas before the trigger ban takes effect a month or two from now. When news of the TRO spread across the WWH and WWHA family, we immediately began calling the patients on our waiting lists and bringing our staff and providers back into the clinics in order to resume abortion care as soon as possible. Yes, we are reopening to provide care in our four Texas clinics. Keep in mind, Texas still enforces a two-visit requirement and a 24-hour waiting period, as well as the six-week ban and other restrictions. Even with these obstacles, our clinic staff are ready and eager to welcome patients back."
On the other hand, Paxton said, "Texas laws defending the unborn will win." However, he still needs an intermediate appellate court or the Texas Supreme Court to agree
"If Paxton can get one of those courts to act swiftly, the lifespan of that TRO may actually be less than two weeks," Chandler said.
As a result, uncertainty remains over how long some providers will offer abortion services, when we can expect the trigger ban outlawing the procedure almost completely to take effect, and what legal battles may wind up in the courts as a result. For now, abortion care for people up to six weeks pregnant is available in Texas again at a limited number of clinics where providers are pledging to help as many people as they can for as long as they can.