Women’s rights groups welcome the ruling but warn it could be overturned by a conservative-controlled Supreme Court.
A federal judge has temporarily blocked a near-total ban on abortion in Texas, the strictest law in the United States, in a challenge filed by President Joe Biden’s administration after the State Supreme Court -Unis authorized it to enter into force.
US District Judge Robert Pitman’s action in Austin on Wednesday prevents the state from enforcing the Republican-backed law, which prohibits women from having an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, as litigation over its legality continues .
The case is part of a fierce legal battle over abortion access in the United States, with many states trying to enforce restrictions on the procedure.
“This Court will not one more day sanction this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” Pitman said in the decision.
BREAKING: Federal court has just temporarily blocked # SB8-for the moment. It is an important step in the fight for reproductive freedom, but the fight for access to abortion in Texas is still far from over. #BansOffOurBodies
– NARAL (@NARAL) October 7, 2021
Whole Woman’s Health, a group that defends women’s right to choose in abortion matters, welcomed the decision, saying: “No Texan should have to suffer from this cruel ban anymore.
But the group noted that the blockage is only temporary, adding that “we still have a long way to go.”
Biden’s Justice Department sued Texas on September 9 and requested a temporary injunction against the law, arguing in an October 1 hearing that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution.
“Anti-abortion bounty hunters”
On September 1, the United States Supreme Court allowed the law to come into force in a 5-4 vote led by conservative justices.
At six weeks pregnant, many women don’t even know they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
It also allows citizens to enforce the ban, rewarding them with at least $ 10,000 if they successfully prosecute anyone who assists in performing an abortion after detection of fetal heart activity. Critics of the law have said that this provision allows people to act as anti-abortion bounty hunters.
The Justice Department argued that the law prevents women from exercising their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy which was recognized in the Supreme Court’s Roe v Wade decision. The landmark 1973 decision legalized abortion in the United States.
The ministry also argued that the law unduly interferes with the operations of the federal government to provide abortion-related services.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, defended the legality of the state’s abortion law, with that office saying in a statement, “The most precious freedom is life itself.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.
Planned Parenthood said the preliminary injunction means lawsuits brought under the law cannot be accepted in Texas courts.
“The remedy granted by the court today is overdue, and we are grateful that the Justice Department has moved quickly to request it,” Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson said she hoped the injunction would allow Texas abortion providers to resume services as soon as possible.
Pitman’s action can be appealed to the New Orleans 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a conservative-leaning body that previously authorized a Texas abortion ban. Pitman was appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama.
American conservatives have long sought to overthrow Roe v Wade.
In December, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a separate case involving a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Mississippi asked the High Court to overturn the 1973 precedent.