Texas temporarily blocked from enforcing near-total abortion ban after Biden administration challenge

, Texas temporarily blocked from enforcing near-total abortion ban after Biden administration challenge, Nzuchi Times National News

‘This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,’ the judge ruled

Article content

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked a near-total ban on abortion in Texas, the toughest such law in the United States, in a challenge brought by President Joe Biden’s administration after the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed it to go into effect.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The action by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin prevents the state from enforcing the Republican-backed law, which prohibits women from obtaining an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, while litigation over its legality continues. The case is part of a fierce legal battle over abortion access in the United States, with numerous states pursuing restrictions.

“This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” Pitman said in the ruling.

Biden’s Justice Department sued Texas on Sept. 9 and sought a temporary injunction against the law, arguing during an Oct. 1 hearing that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 1 let the law take effect in a 5-4 vote powered by conservative justices.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

At six weeks of pregnancy, many women do not yet know they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. It also lets ordinary citizens enforce the ban, rewarding them at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who helped provide an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected. Critics of the law have said this provision enables people to act as anti-abortion bounty hunters.

The Justice Department argued that the law impedes women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy that was recognized in the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The department also argued that the law improperly interferes with the operations of the federal government to provide abortion-related services.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content


  1. Biden administration asks judge to halt strict Texas abortion law


  2. Texas law sparks hundreds of U.S. protests against abortion restrictions

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has defended the legality of the state’s abortion law, with this office saying in a statement: “The most precious freedom is life itself.”

, Texas temporarily blocked from enforcing near-total abortion ban after Biden administration challenge, Nzuchi Times National News

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling.

Planned Parenthood said the preliminary injunction means lawsuits filed under the law cannot be accepted by Texas courts.

“The relief granted by the court today is overdue, and we are grateful that the Department of Justice moved quickly to seek it,” Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Johnson said she was hopeful the injunction will allow Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible.

Pitman heard about three hours of arguments https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-administration-urge-halt-strict-texas-abortion-law-2021-10-01 on the Justice Department’s request. Justice Department attorney Brian Netter called the law an “unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice” that must be struck down.

Will Thompson, an attorney in the Texas Attorney General’s Office, countered the department’s arguments, saying there were plenty of opportunities for people in Texas to challenge the law on their own. He said the department’s arguments were filled with “hyperbole and inflammatory rhetoric.”

Pitman’s action can be appealed to the New Orleans-based U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a conservative-leaning body that previously allowed the Texas abortion ban to proceed. Pitman was appointed by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

U.S. conservatives have long sought to have Roe v. Wade overturned. The Supreme Court on Dec. 1 hears arguments in a separate case involving a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi has asked the high court to overturn the 1973 precedent.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.