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Planned Parenthood Center for Choice v. Abbott (Texas)

(W.D. Tex. No. 1:20-CV-323 / 5th Cir. Nos. 20-50264; 20-50296; Sup. Ct. No. 20-305)

This case challenges an executive order that used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to ban nearly all abortion care in Texas.  Issued on March 22, 2020, the executive order remained in effect until April 21, 2020.  During that period, the district court issued a series of injunctions blocking enforcement of the abortion ban, and the Fifth Circuit issued a series of writs of mandamus reinstating it.  The impact on Texas residents seeking abortion care was devastating.  As the pandemic intensified, they were forced either to engage in risky out-of-state travel to access abortion or to remain pregnant for a period of unknown duration.

Thankfully, Texas clinics have now resumed providing abortion care, and the Supreme Court vacated the Fifth Circuit’s mandamus decisions, which means that they cannot serve as precedent in future cases.

Plaintiffs:

Alamo City Surgery Center PLLC; Brookside Women’s Medical Center PA; Houston Women’s Clinic; Houston Women’s Reproductive Services; Planned Parenthood Center for Choice; Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services; Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Center; Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center; Whole Woman’s Health; Whole Woman’s Health Alliance; Robin Wallace, M.D.

Defendants:

Governor of Texas; Attorney General of Texas; Acting Executive Commissioner of Texas Health and Human Services Commission; Executive Director of Texas Medical Board; Executive Director of Texas Board of Nursing; Criminal District Attorney for Bexar County; District Attorney for Dallas County; District Attorney for El Paso County; Criminal District Attorney for Fort Bend County; Criminal District Attorney for Harris County; Criminal District Attorney for Hidalgo County; Criminal District Attorney for McLennan County; Criminal District Attorney for Tarrant County; District Attorney for Travis County

Co-counsel:

American Civil Liberties Union; ACLU Foundation of Texas, Inc.; Center for Reproductive Rights; Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Patrick J. O’Connell

Timeline and Key Documents:

March 25, 2020

Plaintiff files Complaint

March 30, 2020

District court issues Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)

March 31, 2020

April 7, 2020

Fifth Circuit issues Writ of Mandamus directing the district court to vacate the TRO

April 8, 2020

District court vacates the TRO

April 9, 2020

District court issues second TRO

April 10, 2020

Fifth Circuit stays second TRO

April 11, 2020

Plaintiffs file an emergency application with SCOTUS to vacate the stay as to medication abortion

April 13, 2020

Plaintiffs file First Amended Complaint

April 13, 2020

Fifth Circuit dissolves stay of second TRO as to medication abortion

April 14, 2020

District court extends second TRO

April 15, 2020

State Defendants file a Notice of Appeal

April 17, 2020

Plaintiffs file Second Amended Complaint

April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

Fifth Circuit issues Writ of Mandamus directing the district court to vacate the second TRO except as to individuals who would be past the legal limit for abortion on April 22, 2020

April 21, 2020

District court extends second TRO, as modified by the Fifth Circuit, to additional plaintiffs

April 23, 2020

District court vacates remainder of second TRO following expiration of the executive order at issue

September 3, 2020

Plaintiffs file a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the Supreme Court

January 25, 2021

Supreme Court grants the certiorari petition and vacates both Fifth Circuit orders granting writs of mandamus