A restrictive Texas abortion law will remain in effect as legal challenges play out, according to a new federal appeals court ruling against the Justice Department. FILE – In this Tuesday, May 21, 2019 file photo, An abortion rights advocate holds a sign at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. Republican lawmakers in at least a half dozen GOP-controlled states already are talking about copying a Texas law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law was written in a way that was intended to avoid running afoul of federal law by allowing enforcement by private citizens, not government officials. Democratic governors and lawmakers are promising to take steps to protect abortion rights, after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File) Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Appeals court allows Texas abortion law to stay in place while legal challenges play out
Daniel Chaitin October 14, 09:48 PM October 14, 11:24 PM
A restrictive Texas abortion law will remain in effect as legal challenges play out, according to a new federal appeals court ruling against the Justice Department.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit issued a 2-1 order on Thursday, keeping in place a district court injunction while expediting the appeal.
The case is expected to work its way up to the Supreme Court.
Now: Texas's 6-week abortion ban SB 8 will remain in effect for now – the 5th Circuit has granted a longer-term stay that will keep a district court injunction paused while Texas pursues its appeal. The order is 2-1 with Judge Carl Stewart dissenting. pic.twitter.com/1rKPc3iENu— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 15, 2021
Under TX S.B. 8, abortions are prohibited after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks, and makes no exceptions for rape or incest. Additionally, individuals are allowed to file lawsuits against anyone who “aids or abets” a prohibited abortion. If successful, these people could collect at least $10,000 for each abortion.
Six weeks is before most women realize they are pregnant. Women have reportedly been going across state lines to get an abortion.
The law went into effect on Sept. 1, after which the Supreme Court declined on procedural grounds a request by abortion providers to block the law on that front while legal challenges play out.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman temporarily blocked enforcement of the law on Oct. 6 after the Biden administration filed suit, arguing the law was unconstitutional, referring to the historic ruling in Roe v. Wade that protects women’s access to an abortion.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton requested on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth District reinstate the law, after which it quickly granted a “temporary administrative stay” that evening.
“Breaking: another big win tonight — a victory for life! #prolife,” Paxton, a Republican, tweeted Thursday evening in response to the 2-1 order.
Critics of the Texas law were dismayed.
“It’s outrageous but unsurprising that the Fifth Circuit has once again denied Texans their fundamental reproductive rights. Time and again, the Fifth Circuit has ignored the Constitution by allowing numerous abortion restrictions to take effect, including SB 8 today and last year when Texas used the pandemic as an excuse to ban abortion,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The district court did the right thing in blocking the ban. We hope the Department of Justice urgently appeals this order to the Supreme Court to restore Texans’ ability to obtain abortion care after six weeks in pregnancy and we hope the Supreme Court will put an end to harms this law is causing.”
Judges James Ho, a nominee of President Donald Trump, and Catharina Haynes, a nominee of President George W. Bush voted in favor of Texas on Thursday. The order said Judge Carl Stewart, a nominee of President Bill Clinton, dissented.
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