Federal judge blocks controversial Texas “heartbeat” law

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – A federal judge on Wednesday issued an injunction to temporarily block implementation of the controversial Texas “heartbeat” law which bans abortion from around six weeks gestation, DW reports. US District Judge Robert Pitman in Austin ordered the temporary injunction in response to a suit filed by the Biden administration, which argued the law is unconstitutional.

Introduced as Senate Bill 8, the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect on September 1, after the US Supreme Court declined to block it. The legislation is particularly controversial as, in order to get around settled US Supreme Court law (Roe v Wade 1973) that state governments may not ban abortion until the fetus is viable, the Texas law authorizes citizens to sue anyone who in any way helps a woman get an abortion, for an award of at least $10,000. Critics of the law are concerned that the law is not only unconstitutional but also opens the door to a vigilante culture of bounty hunting. Other criticisms of the law are that it makes no exceptions for rape and incest, and that many women are not even aware they are pregnant at six weeks gestation.

In his 113-page ruling granting the Biden administration’s request for a temporary injunction, Judge Pitman wrote: “This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”

The state of Texas immediately announced it will appeal to the Fifth Circuit to stay the injunction pending appeal, Stephen Isaiah Vladeck, federal courts expert at the University of Texas School of Law reported on Twitter. “Whoever loses in the Fifth Circuit can then go to #SCOTUS for a stay/vacatur of stay,” Vladeck explained.

“In the interim, it’s not clear whether providers will resume offering services. One of the many novel provisions in #SB8 provides that abortions performed while a preliminary injunction is in effect can *still* be a basis for liability if the injunction is later stayed/reversed,” Vladeck noted.

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