A federal judge in Texas has halted enforcement of the state’s controversial law that bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected – normally about six weeks into pregnancy. The decision comes after the Department of Justice sought to overturn the ban and President Biden said that a “whole government” response would act against it.
In a 113-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman wrote:
“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established. Fully aware that depriving its citizens of this right by direct state action would be flagrantly unconstitutional, the State contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme to do just that.”
Pitman proclaimed that “From the moment S.B. 8 went into effect, women have been unlawfully prevented from exercising control over their lives in ways that are protected by the Constitution.” Being aware that this decision will almost undoubtedly be brought back to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, he further wrote “That other courts may find a way to avoid this conclusion is theirs to decide; this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”
The Fifth Circuit – one of the most conservative in the country – had already refused to block the Texas law; the Supreme Court had also rejected an emergency request to stop the law from going into effect.
Attorney General Merrick Garland celebrated the decision, saying, “Today’s ruling enjoining the Texas law is a victory for women in Texas and for the rule of law. It is the foremost responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the Constitution. We will continue to protect constitutional rights against all who would seek to undermine them.”
Texas Right to Life called the ruling “astonishing” to “obstruct state judges and court clerks from fulfilling their lawful duties.” “Until a higher court intervenes, the disappointing reality is that Pitman’s ruling will likely stop the Texas Heartbeat Act from being enforced,” the anti-abortion group wrote in a statement.
Liberty Nation will keep you updated on this developing story.