A federal judge on Wednesday ordered Texas to stop enforcement of its near-total abortion ban, arguing that it deprives women of their constitutional rights, The Associated Press reports.
District Judge Robert Pitman in a 113-page opinion said Texas Republicans have “contrived an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme” that allowed citizens to sue abortion providers and others and win at least $10,000 to avoid judicial review because the state itself was not enforcing the ban.
“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,” said Pitman, who was appointed by Obama.
“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,” he wrote.
Abortions in limbo:
Despite the order, abortion services may not immediately resume because doctors worry they will still be sued unless there is a permanent court order.
The order came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Justice Department, which argued that the law was unconstitutional.
“For more than a month now, Texans have been deprived of abortion access because of an unconstitutional law that never should have gone into effect. The relief granted by the court today is overdue, and we are grateful that the Department of Justice moved quickly to seek it,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Texas vows to appeal:
The state quickly moved to appeal the order.
"We disagree with the Court's decision and have already taken steps to immediately appeal it to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton tweeted. "The sanctity of human life is, and will always be, a top priority for me."
Texas Right to Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, said the order was not unexpected.
“This is ultimately the legacy of Roe v. Wade, that you have activist judges bending over backwards, bending precedent, bending the law, in order to cater to the abortion industry,” spokeswoman Kimberlyn Schwartz told the AP. “These activist judges will create their conclusion first: that abortion is a so-called constitutional right and then work backwards from there.”