(AUSTIN) On Friday night, a federal appeals court quickly allowed Texas to resume a ban on most abortions, just a day after clinics across the state began rushing to serve patients again for the first time since the beginning of September.
Texas on Friday called for the swift reinstatement of America’s most restrictive abortion law, which, until this week, had prohibited most voluntary terminations of pregnancy.
This request sends Texas law, known as SB 8, to the Fifth Federal Court of Appeals, which has previously authorized enforcement of these restrictions.
Even after Judge Robert Pittman suspended the law on Wednesday, many Texas doctors still refuse to perform abortions for fear of facing legal action. The result is that Texas abortion services — which had about two dozen clinics before the law went into effect on 1He is September – Far from getting back to regular exercise, even with the law suspended.
By law, abortions are prohibited in Texas once cardiac activity is detected, usually within the sixth week of pregnancy. The law is enforced only by individual lawsuits against abortion providers — an innovative approach that helped Texans evade the first wave of legal challenges.
Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office told the court that since the state does not enforce the law, it cannot “be held responsible for complaints by private citizens that Texas cannot “prevent.”
His office has asked the court to act by Tuesday, if not sooner.
Mr. Bateman had called the law an “abusive denial” of the constitutional right to abortion. The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which warned that other states could take similar action if the Texas law was not repealed.
Prior to Judge Robert Pittman’s 113-page order, other courts had refused to stop the law, which bans abortions even before some women knew they were pregnant. These include 5NS The Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court, which authorized the application of the law in September without adjudicating its constitutionality.
Texas law leaves law enforcement only to citizens, who are entitled to $10,000 in damages if they successfully sue not only abortion providers who violate the restrictions, but also anyone who assists a woman with an abortion. Republicans drafted the law to allow for retroactive prosecutions if one court overturned the restrictions and then reinstated another.
Judge Robert Pittman’s order was a first blow to Bill SP8, which had withstood a wave of previous challenges. In the weeks after the restrictions took effect, Texas abortion providers said the effect was “exactly what we feared.”
“When SB 8 came into effect, women were unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in a constitutionally protected manner,” wrote Bateman, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama.
Abortion providers say their concerns have come true since the law went into effect. Planned Parenthood says the number of Texas patients in its clinics fell by about 80% in the two weeks after the law went into effect.
Some providers said Texas clinics are now at risk of closing, as neighboring states scramble to deal with an influx of patients who have to travel hundreds of miles to have an abortion. Other women say they are forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
It is not known how many abortions have been performed in Texas since the law went into effect. State health officials say additional reporting requirements by law will not allow September data to be published on its website until early next year.
A 1992 US Supreme Court ruling prevented states from banning abortion before it is viable, that is, when the fetus can survive outside the womb, at about 24 weeks of gestation. But the Texas version has so far defied the courts because it left it up to individuals to file a complaint, not prosecutors, which critics say amounts to a bounty.
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