Texas clinics halt abortions after ruling
Clinics are shutting down abortion services in the nation's second-largest state after the Texas Supreme Court blocked an order briefly allowing the procedure to resume in some cases, the latest in legal scrambles taking place across the US following the reversal of Roe v Wade.
The Friday night ruling stopped a three-day-old order by a Houston judge who said clinics could resume abortions up to six weeks into pregnancy.
The following day, the American Civil Liberties Union said it doubted any abortions were now being provided in a state of nearly 30 million people.
Amy Hagstrom Miller, president of Whole Woman's Health, said the ruling forced an end to abortions in its four Texas clinics, and workers there were winding down abortion operations and having "heartbreaking conversations" with women whose appointments were cancelled.
"I ache for us and for the people we have dedicated our lives to serve with the fabulous abortion care we provide, many who will be denied that right in the months and possibly years to come," Hagstrom Miller said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood's multiple affiliates in Texas had not resumed abortion services even after the restraining order was put in place on Tuesday.
At issue was a long-dormant 1925 criminal law that targets individuals who perform abortions. Clinics had argued that it was invalid after abortion became a constitutional right across the US in 1973.
The US Supreme Court, however, struck down the landmark Roe decision June 24, leaving abortion policy to states.
"Pro-life victory! ... Litigation continues, but I'll keep winning for Texas's unborn babies," said Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who had asked the state Supreme Court to intervene.
Separately, Texas has a 2021 law that was designed to ban abortion in the event that Roe were overturned. It takes effect in the weeks ahead.
"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences," said Julia Kaye of the ACLU.
Providers and patients across the country have been struggling to navigate the evolving legal landscape around abortion laws and access.
In Florida, a law banning abortions after 15 weeks went into effect on Friday, the day after a judge called it a violation of the state constitution and said he would sign an order temporarily blocking it next week.
The ban could have broader implications in the South, as Florida currently allows greater access to the procedure than neighbouring states.
Even when women travel outside states with abortion bans, they may have fewer options to end their pregnancies as the prospect of prosecution follows them.
Also Friday, Google, the company behind the internet's dominant search engine and the Android software that powers most smartphones, said it would automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger potential legal problems.
In addition to abortion clinics, Google cited counselling centres, fertility centres, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics and cosmetic surgery clinics as destinations that will be erased from location histories.
Users have always had the option to edit their location histories on their own, but now Google will do it for them as an added level of protection.