At a hearing this week, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging the state’s abortion ban—which prohibits abortion unless the mother’s life is directly at risk from the pregnancy. 

A lawsuit filed by the pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights in March of this year challenges that exception, which it claims is unclear. 

The lawsuit does not aim to entirely abolish the abortion ban. Rather, it argues that the current exception is too vague and does not include defined medical regulations by which doctors can decide on whether to perform an abortion or not. 

The lawsuit was filed against the state of Texas and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is working to defend the state’s pro-life policies. 

Since March, it has grown from the original five plaintiffs to include a total of 22 individuals—20 female patients and two physicians named Damla Karsan and Judy Levison, who are suing on behalf of themselves and their own respective patients. 

At Tuesday’s hearing, Molly Duane, a Center for Reproductive Rights attorney, stated on behalf of Karsan and Levison that, “The abortion bans as they exist today subject physicians like my clients to the most extreme penalties imaginable: life in prison and loss of their medical license.” 

Duane then expressed disapproval of the current abortion exception guideline in Texas. 

“While there is technically a medical exception to the bans, no one knows what it means, and the state won’t tell us,” she said. 

Representing the state of Texas, prosecutor Beth Klusmann argued that doctors should be allowed to use their own medical judgment to decide when it is medically necessary to perform abortions.

When asked by Justice Debra Lehrmann if the lack of clearly defined medical reasons for doctors to perform abortions puts them in a “really bad medical situation,” Klusmann responded with, “No, Your Honor, I don’t think it does.” 

“They are allowed to use reasonable medical judgment, which is presumably the judgment they use when treating a patient in any given circumstance,” she continued. 

Texas Scorecard reached out to Molly Duane and Justice Lehrmann for comment but has not received responses before publication. 

Will Biagini

Will was born in Louisiana and raised in a military family. He currently serves as a journalist with Texas Scorecard. Previously, he was a senior correspondent for Campus Reform.