Federal judge issues order blocking Texas’ 6-week abortion ban

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U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman granted a Justice Department request, saying, “Ever since SB 8 took effect, women have been barred from exercising control over their lives in ways protected by the Constitution.” brought suit.

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“What other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is their decision; this Court will not allow another day of this aggressive deprivation of such an important right.”

The judge’s order is a victory for abortion rights advocates, who saw other attempts to block the law hindered by the ban’s novel design. However, this may only be a temporary victory.

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Pittman, in his order, aimed to get around the novel enforcement plan—which, its proponents claimed, was put in place to complicate the legal path abortion rights advocates typically obtain to obtain court orders blocking extreme laws. to take.

Rather than task government officials to enforce the ban, the Texas Legislature appointed private citizens to bring state court litigation against any clinics that performed abortions. Those who assist a person in obtaining an abortion who violates the ban can also be targeted with state court litigation under the law, which threatens damages of at least $10,000.

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“While knowing full well that it would be unconstitutional to deprive its citizens of this right by direct State action, the State drew up an unprecedented and transparent statutory plan to do so,” the judge wrote on Wednesday.

Pittman’s order prohibits any state official — including state court judges and court clerks — from enforcing the ban. It expressly mandates those officers to “accept or docket, retain, hear, resolve, award damages, enforce judgments, impose any administrative penalty, and administer any suit” brought under state law. “Restricts from. The judge also ordered the state to take proactive steps to notify the court authorities as well as private individuals, who are seeking enforcement of the ban, that the law is currently blocked under his order.

Because government officials are not tasked with enforcing the law, Texas argues that there is no one that a court can pre-order, in the same way that courts would prevent officials from enforcing common types of abortion restrictions. which imposes criminal or administrative punishment. At a court hearing in the case on Friday, a state attorney said he could not identify a person who could be targeted by the court in an order blocking the law.

Pittman said in his order Wednesday that “despite the Texas Attorney General’s lack of clarity as to what the state would do in the event of a preliminary injunction, this Court is confident that the state will identify the right state officials, officers, judges, clerks and . Employees should follow this order.”

It took Texas just over an hour to indicate on the court docket that it would appeal the order in the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals. This appeals court – perhaps the most conservative in the country – had previously rejected a request from clinics that it block the law, as did the US Supreme Court.

In a recent court filing, Whole Women’s Health, the organization that runs several clinics in the state, said it would resume providing abortions after six weeks if the judge issued an order blocking the law.

Doing so would still present a legal risk to clinics, as Texas law states that clinics are liable for abortions if an order blocking the law is later reversed by a high court, while the law temporarily was blocked from

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said, “While the fight is not over, we expect a court order to block SB8, allowing Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible.” will be allowed to start with.” statement after hearing

Texas law prohibits abortion after fetal heart activity is detected—usually around six weeks into the pregnancy—and often after a woman finds out she is pregnant. It took effect on 1 September after the Supreme Court denied an emergency request to block it.

But while the law blocks access to abortion in violation of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, its new structure has helped it in the courts.
When Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department was bringing its own lawsuit, he said it was an “unprecedented” design “to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review as much as possible”. wants.

Garland celebrated the decision Wednesday, saying in a statement that “today’s decision to join Texas law is a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law.”

“It is the Department of Justice’s greatest responsibility to protect the Constitution,” the attorney general continued. “We will continue to defend constitutional rights against anyone who seeks to undermine them.”

With the exception of one doctor who wrote a Washington Post op-ed claiming she performed an abortion that violated the ban, the clinics say they are complying with Texas law that month, Which is forcing women to go out. State for the procedure if they are more than six weeks into their pregnancies. Planned Parenthood says its Oklahoma providers saw a 133% increase in patients in Texas, while its providers in New Mexico saw a 67% increase in patients in the Lone Star State.

In a court filing on behalf of clinic organization Whole Woman Health, its president said that 56% of patients who showed up to their Texas clinics earlier than six weeks into their pregnancy or who weren’t sure how far along they were. had to be turned away because there was still fetal heart activity detected.

This story has been updated with additional details on Wednesday.

Granthshala’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.

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Credit : www.cnn.com

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