AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas judge ruled Friday that the state’s abortion ban has proven too restrictive for women with serious pregnancy complications and must allow exceptions without doctors fearing the threat of criminal charges.
The ruling is the first to undercut Texas’ law since it took effect in 2022 and delivers a major victory to abortion rights supporters, who see the case as a potential blueprint to weaken restrictions elsewhere that Republican-led states have rushed to implement.
The challenge is believed to be the first in the U.S. brought by women who have been denied abortions since the Supreme Court last year overturned Roe v. Wade, which for nearly 50 years had affirmed the constitutional right to an abortion.
The immediate impact of State District Judge Jessica Mangrum’s decision was unclear in Texas, where all abortion clinics have shuttered in the past year. During two days of emotional testimony in an Austin courtroom, women gave wrenching accounts of learning their babies would not survive birth and being unable to travel long distances to states where abortion is still legal.
The state is expected to seek a swift appeal and has argued that Texas’ ban already allows exceptions, calling doctors’ fears of prosecution unfounded.
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