A federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama blocked Texas’s new pro-life law by issuing a preliminary injunction Wednesday evening in a suit brought by the Biden administration.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman ordered “that the State of Texas, including its officers, officials, agents, employees, and any other persons or entities acting on its behalf” are temporarily forbidden from enforcing the S.B.8., otherwise known as the Texas Heartbeat Act.
The Texas Heartbeat Act, which was passed by the Texas legislature and signed into law in May by Gov. Greg Abbott (R), went into effect on September 1. The law effectively bans abortions in the Lone Star State the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected, which often occurs after six weeks of pregnancy.
Texas is the first state to implement this kind of abortion law. The law differs from efforts in the past in that any person can sue any abortion provider who kills an unborn child after six weeks of gestation, and any person can sue anyone who aids or abets in an illegal abortion. The person being sued must pay the person doing the suing at least $10,000 per illegal abortion they perform or assist.
On September 1, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 5-4 not to block the law while legal challenges proceed in lower courts. A narrow majority of justices held that the abortion-provider plaintiffs had failed to meet the high standard required for the Supreme Court to issue an injunction blocking a law before it goes into effect, Breitbart News reported.
Abortion providers have claimed the law heavily reduced abortion access and goes against Supreme Court precedent set by Roe v. Wade in 1973. Woke companies, celebrities and leftists politicians alike have expressed outrage at Texas’s pro-life law as an attempt by Republicans to control women’s bodies. Pro-life organizations, in contrast, have celebrated the Texas Heartbeat Act for recognizing and protecting the personhood of unborn children.
Although Pitman is known as a liberal judge, his ruling will now be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, widely understood to be the most conservative federal appeals court in the nation.
The case is United States v. Texas, No. 1:21-cv-796 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas