A federal judge ordered Texas to suspend the most restrictive abortion law in the US, calling it an “aggressive lack” of a constitutional right by banning most abortions in the country’s second-most populous state. from september.
Order Wednesday is the first legal blow to a Texas law by U.S. District Judge Robert Pittman called the . is referred to as Senate Bill 8, Which had so far faced a wave of initial challenges. In the weeks since the restrictions went into effect, Texas abortion providers say the effect has been “Exactly what we feared.”
In the 113-page opinion, Pittman called for Texas to act on the law, leaving enforcement entirely in the hands of private citizens who had “made an unprecedented and transparent statutory plan” to collect $10,000 in damages. are entitled to if they bring successful lawsuits against abortion providers who violate the sanctions.
“Ever since SB 8 took effect, women have been barred from taking control of their lives in ways protected by the Constitution,” wrote Pittman, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama.
“While other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion, it is their decision; this Court will not sanction another day for this aggressive deprivation of such an important right.”
But despite the law’s ban, abortion services in Texas may not resume immediately because doctors still fear they could be prosecuted without a more permanent legal decision. Planned Parenthood said it hopes the order will allow clinics to resume abortion services as soon as possible.
Texas officials swiftly told the court they intended to withdraw from the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously allowed the sanctions to take effect.
NS The lawsuit was brought by the Biden administration, which has said that the sanctions were implemented in defiance of the US Constitution. Attorney General Merrick Garland called the order “a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law.”
The law was effective from 1 September.
“For more than a month now, Texans have been denied access to abortion because of an unconstitutional law that should never have taken effect. Today the court-ordered relief is overdue, and we are grateful that the Department of Justice moved swiftly in its search,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, said the order was not unexpected.
“It is ultimately the legacy of Roe v. Wade, that you have activist judges bending backwards, bending precedent, bending the law to cater to the abortion industry,” said Kimberlynn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the group. “These proactive judges will first formulate their conclusion: abortion is a so-called constitutional right and then work backwards from there.”
Abortionists say their fear has turned into reality in the short time since the law came into force. Planned Parenthood says number of patients Texas has reduced its clinics in the state by about 80% in the two weeks since the law went into effect.
Some providers have said clinics in Texas are now in danger of closing, while neighboring states are struggling to keep up. crowd of patients Which would have to drive hundreds of miles. He says other women are being forced to conceive.
Other states, mostly in the South, have passed similar laws that ban abortions within the early weeks of pregnancy, all of which have been blocked by judges. A 1992 decision of the US Supreme Court prohibited states from banning abortions before viability, at which point the fetus can survive outside the womb, around 24 weeks of pregnancy.
But the Texas version had so far overtaken the courts because it leaves private citizens to file a lawsuit, not prosecutors, which critics say equates to a bounty.
Will Thompson, an attorney for the Texas Attorney General’s office, defended the law to Pittman last week, saying “it’s not some sort of vigilance plan.” “This is a plan that uses the normal, lawful process of justice in Texas.”
The Texas law is just one that has set up the largest test of abortion rights in the US in decades, and is part of a broader push by Republicans nationwide to introduce new restrictions on abortion.
Last month, the court ruled on the constitutionality of the Texas law not allowing it to remain in place. But abortion providers took that 5-4 vote as an ominous sign of where the court was going after former President Donald Trump’s conservative majority with three appointments on abortion.
Ahead of the Supreme Court’s new term, Planned Parenthood released a report on Friday saying that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, 26 states have provisions to ban abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, this year alone, there have been nearly 600 abortion restrictions in state homes across the country, with more than 90 becoming laws.
Texas officials argued in court filings that even if the law was temporarily halted, providers could still face the threat of litigation over violations that could occur in the time between a permanent ruling.
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