AUSTIN, Texas (WNN) – A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Texas to suspend the most restrictive abortion law in the US, making it a constitutional right by banning most abortions in the nation’s second-most populous state since September. called “aggressive deprivation”. .
U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman’s order is the first legal blow to a Texas law known as Senate Bill 8, which had so far faced a wave of initial challenges. In the weeks after the restrictions went into effect, Texas abortion providers say the impact is “exactly what we feared.”
In the 113-page opinion, Pittman called on Texas to act on the law, saying Republican lawmakers “made an unprecedented and transparent statutory plan” to deny patients their constitutional right to abortion.
“Ever since SB 8 took effect, women have been barred from taking control of their lives in ways protected by the Constitution,” wrote Pittman, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama.
“While other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion, it is their decision; this Court will not sanction another day for this aggressive deprivation of such an important right.”
But despite the law’s ban, abortion services in Texas may not resume immediately because doctors still fear they could be prosecuted without a more permanent legal decision. Planned Parenthood said it hopes the order will allow clinics to resume abortion services as soon as possible.
Texas officials may seek a swift reversal from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously allowed the sanctions to take effect. State officials did not immediately react to the decision.
The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which has said the sanctions were imposed in defiance of the US Constitution.
“For more than a month now, Texans have been denied access to abortion because of an unconstitutional law that should never have taken effect. Today the court-ordered relief is overdue, and we are grateful that the Department of Justice moved swiftly in its search,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
The law, signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott in May, prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected, which is usually about six weeks, before some women even know they are pregnant. To enforce the law, Texas deputed private citizens to file suit against violators, and if successful entitle them to damages of at least $10,000.
The Biden administration argued that Texas attacked a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion under GOP-engineered restrictions, which took effect Sept.
Abortionists say their fear has turned into reality in the short time since the law came into force. Planned Parenthood says the number of Texas patients at its clinics in the state has decreased by about 80% in the two weeks since the law took effect.
Some providers have said clinics in Texas are now in danger of closure, while neighboring states are struggling to contain the number of patients who must drive hundreds of miles. He says other women are being forced to conceive.
In other states, mostly in the South, similar laws have been passed that ban abortions in the early weeks of pregnancy, all of which have been blocked by judges. But the Texas version has so far outstripped the courts because it leaves private citizens to file a lawsuit, not prosecutors, which critics say equates to a bounty.
Will Thompson, an attorney for the Texas Attorney General’s office, defended the law to Pittman last week, saying “it’s not some sort of vigilance plan.” “This is a plan that uses the normal, lawful process of justice in Texas.”
The Texas law is just one that has set up the largest test of abortion rights in the US in decades, and is part of a broader push by Republicans nationwide to introduce new restrictions on abortion.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court began a new term, in Mississippi’s bid in December in the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade’s ruling, which guaranteed a woman’s right to an abortion.
Last month, the court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law not allowing it to remain in place. But abortion providers took that 5-4 vote as an ominous sign of where the court was going after former President Donald Trump’s conservative majority with three appointments on abortion.
Ahead of the Supreme Court’s new term, Planned Parenthood released a report on Friday saying that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, 26 states have provisions to ban abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, this year alone, there have been nearly 600 abortion restrictions in state homes across the country, with more than 90 becoming laws.
Texas officials argued in court filings that even if the law was temporarily halted, providers could still face the threat of litigation over violations that could occur in the time between a permanent ruling.
At least one Texas abortion provider has admitted to violating the law and has been prosecuted — but not by abortion opponents. Former Illinois and Arkansas attorneys say they sued the San Antonio doctor in hopes of getting a judge who would invalidate the law.