Texas passed a new law earlier this year banning abortions after the point in a pregnancy at which a fetal heartbeat can be detected, or as early as six weeks of gestation. Known as S.B. 8, the law has faced steep opposition — and now, opponents of the measure have just clinched a temporary win.
Challengers of the Texas abortion ban cried victory in the legal battle against the measure this week after a federal judge issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law for the time being, the Washington Examiner.
But supporters say that the fight is far from being over. What’s more, even physicians who perform abortions haven’t been quick to celebrate.
“Protected by the Constitution”
According to the Examiner, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued the order against the law on Wednesday.
In his 113-page ruling, Pitman, who was appointed to the federal judiciary by former President Barack Obama, excoriated the law, saying that from the moment it “went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,”
“That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” the judge added.
In an unusual twist, S.B. 8 provides that Texas officials are specifically prohibited from enforcing its provisions. Rather, private individuals are permitted to sue anyone who facilitates an abortion, other than the patient seeking the procedure.
This has left opponents unclear on who to sue, and even judges have been left uncertain. The Supreme Court made headlines in late August after it refused to issue an injunction blocking the enactment of S.B. 8.
This week’s challenge was brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), with Biden administration lawyers accusing the state of implementing vigilante justice. “A state may not ban abortions at six weeks,” the Examiner quoted DOJ attorney Brian Netter as saying.
“Texas knew this, but it wanted a six-week ban anyway, so the state resorted to an unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice that was designed to scare abortion providers and others who might help women exercise their constitutional rights,” Netter added.
“The sanctity of human life”
According to The Hill, Texas has already signaled that it will be appealing Pittman’s ruling to the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit, with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) saying, “The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me.”
What’s more, The Washington Post has reported that many abortion providers in the state have said they will remain closed despite the injunction, citing a provision of the law that allows for retroactive lawsuits for abortions that were performed during a temporary injunction. Still, only time will tell what the future ultimately holds for one of the most pro-life laws in modern U.S. history.