News Release

Statement by Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar on Texas Attorney General’s Response to Court Order Allowing Emergency Abortion

NACDL condemns Paxton’s attempt to override judge’s order, intimidate pregnant mother facing deadly pregnancy complications, and criminalize those providing life-saving procedure

Washington, DC (Dec. 7, 2023) – In response to a Travis County, Texas, judge’s emergency order allowing a pregnant woman to receive an abortion due to fatal fetal abnormalities and a high risk of life-threatening complications, Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted a letter and issued a statement defying the court’s decision by threatening prosecution of anyone involved in the abortion.

“The overreaching attorney general aims to circumvent the judicial process by tweeting vindictive threats to prosecute Texas hospitals, medical staff, and ‘anyone else’ involved in potentially life-saving healthcare – and by inviting third-party lawsuits – after a judge has enjoined any punitive action. But in his improper attempt to end run the judge and to intimidate a Texas mother and her doctor instead of filing an appeal, Mr. Paxton has stepped out of bounds. This looming threat of prosecution arguably violates the temporary restraining order and thus may approach grounds for an ethics complaint related to an abuse of power,” said Lisa M. Wayne, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). “He should have filed an appeal instead of publicly targeting a mother and her healthcare providers over a private medical matter.”


Jonathan Hutson, NACDL Senior Director of Public Affairs and Communications, 202-480-5343 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.

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