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Whole Woman’s Health Alliance v. Paxton (Texas)

(W.D. Tex. No. 1:18-cv-500)

For years, Texas pursued an incremental strategy designed to chip away at abortion access.  The State layered restrictions on top of restrictions, steadily increasing the burdens faced by people seeking to end their pregnancies. When this case was filed, abortion patients and providers faced a dizzying array of medically unnecessary requirements that were difficult, time-consuming, and costly to navigate—sometimes prohibitively so.

This case challenges five categories of Texas abortion restrictions: (1) targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws; (2) laws that deny abortion patients the benefits of scientific progress; (3) biased counseling and waiting-period laws; (4) laws that burden pregnant teenagers who lack parental support; and (5) laws that criminalize abortion care. It seeks to return Texas to a system of reasonable and medically appropriate abortion regulation. This case also challenges the University of Texas System’s practice of denying its students credit for internships and field placements with organizations that support abortion rights.

While the case was pending, the Supreme Court decided Dobbs v. Jackson Woman’s Health Organization, which overruled nearly fifty years of precedent holding that the Constitution protects abortion access as a fundamental right.  Following Dobbs, Texas began enforcing a pair of abortion bans that prohibit abortion at all gestational ages in nearly all circumstances.  These bans render the laws and policies that were at issue in this case largely moot.  As a result, the plaintiffs dismissed the case without prejudice.

“Without prejudice” means that the plaintiffs can bring a new case challenging these laws and policies in the future, if and when healthcare providers are able to resume providing abortion care in Texas.

Defendants:

Attorney General of Texas, in his official capacity; Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, in her official capacity; Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, in his official capacity; Executive Director of the Texas Medical Board, in his official capacity; Chancellor of the University of Texas System, in his official capacity; and Travis County Attorney, in his official capacity and as representative of the class of all Texas county and district attorneys with authority to prosecute misdemeanor offenses

Co-counsel:

Morrison & Foerster LLP; Patrick J. O’Connell

Timeline and Key Documents:

June 14, 2018

Plaintiffs file Complaint

July 21, 2022

Plaintiffs file a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal

July 22, 2022

District court enters an Order closing the case