Abortion supporters celebrated this week after a federal judge enjoined late on Wednesday S.B. 8, a Texas law that effectively bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
However, those celebrations have proven to be short-lived. According to reports, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals moved Friday to put the pro-life law back into effect.
“An offensive deprivation” of rights?
Fox News initially reported Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee, had issued a 113-page ruling in which he excoriated the Texas law, calling it unconstitutional and “offensive.”
“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established,” the judge wrote, according to Fox.
Pitman pointed to an unusual feature of the law that specifically prohibits Texas officials from taking any steps to enforce it. Rather, private citizens are instead given the option to sue those, other than the would-be mother, who participate in facilitating an abortion.
This fact has left opponents seeking to challenge the legislation without a clear idea as to who they should take to court.
Pitman, for his part, complained Wednesday that lawmakers had “deliberately circumvented the traditional process” by drafting “the law with the intent to preclude review by federal courts that have the obligation to safeguard the very rights the statute likely violates.”
“From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution,” he charged, according to Fox. “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.”
5th Circuit quashes injunction
The state of Texas quickly made clear that it would appeal Pitman’s ruling to the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit, and The Hill reported late Friday that the state’s appeal had been successful.
“It is ordered that Appellant’s emergency motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal is temporarily held in abeyance pending further order by this motions panel,” the appeals panel declared, according to The Hill.
Though the legal battle over S.B. 8 isn’t over yet, the latest ruling is being celebrated by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and staunch advocate of pro-life policies.
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) October 9, 2021