A federal judge has ordered Texas to suspend its Heartbeat Act, which has effectively banned most abortions in the state since September.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered the state to put a temporarily halt on the law, the AP reported, adding that “even with the law on hold, abortion services in Texas may not instantly resume because doctors still fear that they could be sued without a more permanent legal decision.”
“Texas officials are likely to seek a swift reversal from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously allowed the restrictions to take effect,” the report added.
“The Justice Department argued the law should be put on hold while the case plays out due to the severe impact it is already having on women, forcing many to drive hundreds or thousands of miles to other states to seek reproductive care — if they have the time and money to do so,” Bloomberg reported.
“The judge didn’t mince words in his ruling, saying Texas law was ‘contrived’ to get around a constitutional right,” Bloomberg Law reported. “He denied Texas’s request to throw out the U.S. Justice Department’s challenge to the law.”
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“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established,” wrote Pitman, an Obama appointee. “Fully aware that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the State contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that.”
In mid-September, a federal judge handed the Biden administration a defeat when he refused to block Texas’ Heartbeat Law, which forbids providers from administering abortions outside of six weeks.
“United States District Judge Robert Pitman in a one page decision this afternoon denying Biden’s request to block the law while the lawsuit against it continues,” the website reported.
“[T]his case presents complex, important questions of law that merit a full opportunity for the parties to present their positions to the Court,” Judge Pitman, an Obama appointee, wrote. “Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the United States’ Opposed Motion for Expedited Briefing Schedule, (Dkt. 13), is DENIED.”
The Supreme Court in early September handed the organized left a defeat by essentially upholding Texas’ Heartbeat Law. A number of the state’s abortion providers had brought lawsuits over the legislation, which gives expectant mothers six weeks to decide whether or not to terminate the life of a developing child.
“The applicants now before us have raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue,” the court’s majority wrote. “But their application also presents complex and novel antecedent procedural questions on which they have not carried their burden.”
“In reaching this conclusion, we stress that we do not purport to resolve definitively any jurisdictional or substantive claim in the applicants’ lawsuit,” the decision said. “In particular, this order is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law, including in Texas state courts.”
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