Federal Judge Halts Enforcement of Texas Abortion Ban

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Abortion
Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue (Flickr CC0)

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin granted a temporary injunction against Texas’ recent law that virtually bans abortion. Beginning Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, the state is ordered to halt the enforcement of Senate Bill 8 (SB8), which essentially prohibits abortions once the “fetal heartbeat” is detectable, about six weeks into a pregnancy.

In his 113-page decision, he found in favor of the U.S. Justice Department. Pitman said the law flagrantly violated a woman’s constitutional right to exercise control over her own life. His ruling addressed the “novel enforcement scheme” that deputized pro-life supporters to file lawsuits against anyone believed to be promoting or performing an abortion.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland filed the lawsuit against Texas on September 9. The preliminary statement reads:

It is settled constitutional law that “a State may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability.” Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 879 (1992); accord Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). But Texas has done just that.

Abortion
Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue (Flickr CC0)

The suit further points out that the Republican-led state Senate passed the law in open defiance of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting pre-viability abortions, around 24 weeks or the beginning of the third trimester.

Moreover, the statute does not protect the doctors who provide lawful procedures or the women who exercise their right to seek an abortion.

No Abortions Even in Cases of Rape, Incest, or Sexual Assault

SB8 makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from sexual abuse, incest, or rape, which is in line with statements made by numerous GOP politicians. Former Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri appears to be one of the first Republicans who said a “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy.

His statement was passed off as though it was a medical fact. However, it seems Adkin paraphrased a statement made by James Leon Holmes in 1980 when he argued for an abortion ban:

Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.

The Week Magazine reports this 13th-century theory appears in one of the earliest British legal documents: “If however, the woman should have conceived at the time alleged in the appeal, it abates, for without a woman’s content she could not conceive.”

Texas Anti-Abortion Groups ‘Disappointed’ Over Ruling

Justice Pittman wrote that the Court trusts that Texas will identify officials who must comply with his ruling and enforce compliance.

Texas Right to Life called Pitmans’ ruling disappointing and wildly broad. They expect his ruling to be overturned by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals.

Written by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

CNN: Federal judge issues order blocking Texas’ 6-week abortion ban; by Tierney Sneed
USA Today: Federal judge blocks Texas restrictive abortion law, says women faced ‘irreparable harm;’ by Madlin Mekelburg and Christal Hayes
NBC News: Federal judge temporarily blocks enforcement of Texas law banning most abortions; by Dartunorro Clark
The Week Magazine: ‘Rape can’t cause pregnancy’: A brief history of Todd Akin’s bogus theory

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Lorie Shaill’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Fibonacci Blue’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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