Late Wednesday night, a federal judge granted the Justice Department temporary injunctions that would block the implementation of Texas’ strict abortion laws.
Robert Pitman, U.S. District Judge, issued the order. This will prevent the state from enforcing the law known as S.B. 8 was approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature. In September, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law could be applied while legal challenges are pending.
Pitman stated that “from the time S.B. Pitman stated in his ruling that “from the moment S.B. Pitman stated that while other courts might come up with a solution, this Court will not approve of another day of this deprivation.
Pitman said that the Texas Legislature had “contrived a unprecedented and transparent statute scheme” in order to enact an almost total ban on abortions.
If fetal heart activity is detected, the law prohibits women getting an abortion. This is usually around six weeks. Many women don’t know they are pregnant until then. Texas’ ban, unlike other states’ anti-abortion laws allows private citizens to enforce it by filing lawsuits against violators. If successful, they will be entitled to at least $10,000 in damages.
On Friday, lawyers for the Justice Department appeared before a federal court in Texas to request that a judge block Texas’ restrictive abortion law. They claim the statute is “in open disregard of the Constitution.”
The Texas Attorney General’s Office lawyers have maintained that the law was constitutional and asked Pitman to refuse the request for a preliminary order.
Texas quickly appealed Pitman’s order to U.S. 5th. Circuit Court of Appeals could grant a stay to the ruling and permit the law to continue in force while litigation continues.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, called the ruling “a significant step forward towards restoring constitutional rights for women across Texas.”
Her statement continued, “The fight has just begun, both here in Texas and elsewhere in the country where women’s right are being attacked,” she said. “This is why the President supports Roe v. Wade codification, and why he directed a whole of government response to S.B. 8 and will continue to stand with women all over the country to defend their constitutional rights.
He said, “Today’s Texas law enjoining it is a victory for Texas women and the rule of law.” The Department of Justice has the primary responsibility of defending the Constitution. We will continue to defend constitutional rights against anyone who seeks to subvert them.
Thousands rallied across the country last weekend to support abortion rights, prompted by the Texas law. As more GOP-led states consider legislation to restrict abortion, pressure is mounting on legislators to take action. These bills are currently being challenged in court.
Anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List criticized the decision in a statement. It argued that “an unelected judge interfered with the clearly stated will of Texans.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the group, stated that Texas’s people acted through their state legislators to protect unborn children who have beating hearts. “It’s time to restore this right and update our laws.”
Alexis McGill Johnson was the president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood. She released a statement praising the ruling.
Johnson stated that Texasans have been denied abortion access for more than a month due to an unconstitutional law which should never have been in effect. We are optimistic that S.B. will be blocked by the court, even though this battle is far from over. 8 will allow Texas abortion providers the opportunity to resume their services as soon as possible.
With a conservative majority of 6-3, the Supreme Court will also be considering a challenge to a Mississippi abortion bill. This is likely to be another challenge against the 1973 Roe V. Wade ruling that legalized abortions.