Federal Judge Blocks Texas’ Six-Week Abortion Ban

Ana Martinez, Online Editor-in-Chief

On Oct. 6, a federal judge temporarily blocked Texas from enforcing the controversial abortion ban barring abortion procedures as early as six weeks into pregnancy. 

The decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman is a legal blow to the law, known as the Texas Heartbeat Act or SB 8. Signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, the law delegates enforcement to private parties and authorizes civil damages of $10,000 or more to anyone who successfully sues a defendant accused of performing or aiding in an abortion. 

Pitman has responded to the law, which went into  effect on Sept. 1, in a 113-page decision

“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,” Pitman 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.”

Pitman addresses the constitutionality of SB 8, stating that it is “substantially likely” that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws.

Since the law’s enactment, the number of patients at the Texas clinics for Planned Parenthood has decreased by nearly 80%. Abortion clinics fear the continuation of abortion procedures because of the implications of the action in a more permanent legal decision. 

Currently, the state of Texas filed notice with the court that it intends to seek a reversal from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the same court that previously allowed SB 8 to take effect. However, the ban is likely to face more legal proceedings and decisions in the upcoming weeks.