Court Battles

Texas to appeal ruling blocking abortion law

Texas will appeal a court order blocking the state’s restrictive abortion law after a federal judge called it an “offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

In public statements and court filings issued just hours after the ruling from U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, Texas officials said they intended to take the case to an appeals court.

“We disagree with the Court’s decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said on Twitter Thursday morning. “The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me.”

Pitman, who was appointed by former President Obama, sided with the Biden administration late Wednesday in blocking the enforcement of the law, known as S.B. 8, saying that Texas lawmakers purposely designed a legislative scheme to bypass constitutional protections for women seeking abortions.

“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,” Pitman wrote. “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 law, which went into effect on Sept. 1, bans abortions after a heartbeat can be detected, which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy. Instead of granting state officials the authority to enforce the law, it gives private parties the ability to sue medical personnel who perform banned abortions or even anyone who “aids or abets it,” such as giving a patient a ride to a procedure.

Under the law, plaintiffs can win $10,000 awards for successful lawsuits, a regulatory scheme that critics say has turned anti-abortion activists into bounty hunters.

The design of the law also creates procedural hurdles for lawsuits challenging it, since court orders blocking state laws are typically aimed at officials who are tasked with enforcing them.

During a hearing last week, Pitman questioned an attorney for the state about the design of the law.

“I guess my obvious question to you is if the state is so confident in the constitutionality of the limitations on women’s access to abortion, then why did you go to such great lengths to create this very unusual private cause of action rather than just simply doing it directly?” the judge said.

Tags Abortion Barack Obama

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