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AUSTIN, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Life won another victory in the Lone Star State on Friday as the Texas Supreme Court ordered a stay on a lower court’s ruling that blocked the enforcement of pre-Roe criminal prohibitions on abortion.
The higher court’s order comes in response to a request for an Emergency Motion filed Thursday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, after a lower court judge in Harris County had blocked enforcement of the State’s 1925 law against elective abortions until the Human Life Protection Act of 2021 takes effect. According to the 2021 Protection Act, anyone who performs or helps provide an abortion could be charged with a first-degree felony and a $100,000 penalty.
In an advisory letter issued after the Dobbs decision overturning Roe, Paxton stated that criminal prosecution against abortion providers did not need to wait until the Human Life Protection Act took effect. “Some prosecutors,” Paxton wrote, “may choose to immediately pursue criminal prosecutions based on violations of Texas abortion prohibitions predating Roe that were never repealed by the Texas Legislature. Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law. Under these pre-Roe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.”
In a statement on the district court’s injunction, Paxton said, “The trial court was wrong to enjoin enforcement of Texas’s longstanding prohibitions on elective abortion. Let there be no mistake: the lower court’s unlawful order does not immunize criminal conduct, which can be punished at a later date once the temporary restraining order is lifted. My office will not hesitate to act in defense of unborn Texans put in jeopardy by plaintiffs’ wrongful actions and the trial court’s erroneous order.”
The Attorney General again explained in a press release Thursday that “the Texas Legislature has never repealed the State’s longstanding criminal laws that prohibit abortion, unless necessary to save the life of the mother. The United States Supreme Court’s erroneous decision in Roe v. Wade prevented Texas from enforcing these laws for many decades. But lack of enforcement does not remove the provisions from Texas law. Now that the Supreme Court has overruled Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, Texas law against abortion can be enforced.”
Vowing to prosecute any violation of the pre-Roe abortion ban, Paxton highlighted the “irreparable loss” constituted by the killing of an unborn child.
“Evidently undeterred by future criminal punishment and civil liability,” Paxton’s press release stated, “the plaintiff abortion clinics say that they intend to violate Texas law under cover of the temporary restraining order. Once an abortion occurs, nothing can restore the unborn child’s life; prosecuting the abortionist later is no substitute. ‘That irreparable loss necessitates th[e] Court’s immediate action.’”
That “immediate action” came Friday with the Texas Supreme Court’s stay on the lower court injunction. Now, with the exception of a medical threat to life of the mother, abortion is illegal in the Lone Star State.