Texas and Ohio high courts allow state anti-abortion laws to take immediate effect
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Texas and Ohio high courts allow state anti-abortion laws to take immediate effect

The Texas and Ohio Supreme Courts Friday denied motions by state abortion providers seeking relief from the states’ now-effective anti-abortion laws.

Earlier this week, a Texas judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing a century-old state law that criminalizes abortion from taking effect. On Friday, however, the Texas Supreme Court granted state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s emergency motion to stay the order. In his brief, Paxton argues that although Roe v. Wadeeffectively prevented enforcement of Texas’s criminal prohibitions for nearly five decades […] federal courts have no ability to ‘strike down’ or revoke a statute.” Thus, because the Texas legislature has never repealed the 1925 law, the state Supreme Court agreed that it should be given effect, stipulating, however, that for now only civil actions can be brought under the law. 

Similarly, the Ohio Supreme Court blocked an emergency motion by state abortion providers to stay the state’s “heart-beat law” until their case can be heard on the merits. The law, passed in 2019, prohibits abortions once cardiac activity is detectable in the fetus, around six weeks. Just hours after Roe was overturned, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost received permission from a federal judge that the law could take effect. But several abortion clinics responded with a lawsuit, arguing that the Ohio Constitution offers greater protections than the federal constitution to the extent that a state law limiting abortion to six weeks is unconstitutional.

The Texas and Ohio decisions are emblematic of the substantial state litigation likely to occur as the fight for reproductive rights turns to the states in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. US President Joe Biden has expressed a willingness to amend the Senate filibuster rule so as to overcome legislative gridlock on the issue.