"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Texas Abortion Law Enforcement Pauses

Courtesy of BuddyL (Flickr CC0)

*Update* A federal appeals court panel has temporarily reinstated Texas’ restrictive abortion law. On Oct. 8, 2021, the ban on virtually all abortion procedures was put back in place. This has irritated many women, activists, and administrators.

A federal judge granted the Department of Justice requests to pause the enforcement of the recently passed Texas law on abortions. The legal battle made its way through the federal courts about its statute.

Austin Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Pitman sided with the Biden administration that sued to halt the law in his 113-page ruling. The law changed the landscape of the abortion fight and fueled the national debate on whether to legalize abortion in the country.

Judge Pitman criticized the law, also known as Senate Bill 8, which states a complete ban on abortion in Texas. The law prohibits most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy without exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape.

Pitman wrote that women did not have the chance to exercise control over their lives in ways protected by the Constitution. His court will not sanction the deprivation of a fundamental right. The effect on women in Texas of this decision to pause enforcement of the law is unclear as they scramble to find abortion providers in other parts of the country.

The legal approach of temporary suspension 

Courtesy of BuddyL (Flickr CC0)

Clinics can be sued retroactively for any abortions they provide, meaning it can still be penalized when the suspension is lifted for abortions while the suspension is in place.

The Legislative Director for anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, John Seago said, the Senate Bill 8 states that if an injunction is dismissed, providers are still accountable for abortions they did while protected by the law. Therefore, even though Judge Pitman ruled in favor of the clinics, they were hesitant to resume full activity.

The president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, said that the clinic her group represents hope to resume abortion services. Then again, the prosecution threat will remain until they permanently abolish the Texas abortion law. The Whole Woman’s Health that operates four clinics in Texas state said that it will resume abortion care of up to 18 weeks.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland glorified the ruling as a victory for women in Texas. He said it is the responsibility of the Department of Justice to defend the Constitution and continue to protect the rights against those who pursue to undermine them.

During the hearing last week, William T. Thompson, a Texas State lawyer, argued that the Department of Justice did not have grounds to debate the case because it did not harm the federal government. But, the Department of Justice argued that Senate Bill 8 harms the federal government because it violated the supremacy clause.

There is no guarantee that the Department of Justice civil suit against Texas will make it to the Supreme Court. However, if the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the Senate Bill 8 is constitutional, the Supreme Court could decline the case with a 6 to 3 conservative majority.

Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Sheena Robertson


The New York Times: Federal Judge Pauses Strict Texas Law Banning Most Abortions; by Sabrina Tavernise and Katie Benner

Cleburne TimesReview: Appeals court allows Texas abortion law to resume, stopping federal judge’s order to block its enforcement; Monica Faram

The New York Times: Most Abortions in Texas Are Banned Again After Court Ruling; by J. David Goodman

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of BuddyL’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of BuddyL’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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