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Texas, Ohio top courts allow abortion bans to take effect By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Abortion rights activists march past the home of United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., June 27, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo

By Nate Raymond and Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) -The top courts in Texas and Ohio on Friday allowed the Republican-led states to enforce restrictions and bans on abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court last week overturned the nationwide constitutional right to abortion.

The Texas Supreme Court late on Friday allowed a nearly century-old abortion ban to take effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and erased women’s constitutional right to abortion.

The order, which allows the law to be enforced civilly but not criminally, came the same day the Ohio Supreme Court gave the state the go-ahead to enforce a 2019 ban on abortions at six weeks of pregnancy.

The dual orders came one week after the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court restored states’ authority to ban abortions, triggering a flurry of lawsuits seeking to preserve the ability of women to terminate their own pregnancies.

The Texas Supreme Court acted in response to a request by Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton to put on hold a temporary restraining order a judge issued Tuesday that allowed abortions to resume in the state up to the already-restricted six weeks of pregnancy.

Lawyers for the abortion clinics who challenged the 1925 ban vowed to continue fighting. A lower court judge could block the law once more following arguments slated for July 12, the clinics say.

“We won’t stop fighting to ensure that as many people as possible, for as long as possible, can access the essential reproductive health care they need,” said Julia Kaye, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union representing the Texas abortion clinics challenging the ban.

Abortion rights groups have since last week challenged anti-abortion laws in 11 states, and judges in Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Utah have prevented restrictions or bans from being enforced.

Friday’s orders came as two Democratic-controlled states, New York and New Jersey, moved to bolster abortion rights within their borders.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation designed to allow women who venture to the state seeking abortions to do so without fear of prosecution or civil litigation from their home states.

The measures also established new legal protections for reproductive healthcare practitioners in New Jersey who provide interstate abortion services.

The New York Senate passed an amendment to the state constitution to codify the right to an abortion, as well as the right to contraception.

Roe had guaranteed a national right to end any pregnancy up until the time of fetal viability outside the womb – generally between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation.

Ohio’s law, S.B. 23, bans abortion after fetal cardiac activity can first be detected, around six weeks of gestation, a point before many women even realize their pregnant.

The Ohio measure, which Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed into law, had been blocked in the federal courts. But hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, a federal judge dissolved the injunction preventing its enforcement.

Republican Attorney General Dave Yost had argued Ohio’s state constitution did not recognize a right to abortion. In a statement, he said the plaintiffs should be “pursuing their policy goals through the political process, not the courts.”

Also on Friday, Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers brought a lawsuit before the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging two state abortion bans, one from 1910 and one passed this year.

Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Oklahoma Supreme Court, in an 8-1 ruling on Tuesday, allowed another abortion ban in the state to take effect.

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