A federal judge on Wednesday issued an order temporarily blocking the enforcement of Texas’s heartbeat abortion law, which allows private citizens to sue providers that perform abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman granted the Biden administration’s request to temporarily block enforcement of the abortion ban and denied the state’s request to pause his ruling pending appeal, saying “this Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right.”
NOW: A federal judge has blocked enforcement of SB 8, Texas's 6-week abortion ban, and denied Texas's request to pause his ruling pending appeal.
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) October 7, 2021
“A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established,” Pitman wrote in the 113-page ruling.
“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,” the ruling adds.
The ruling comes after the Justice Department sued Texas on September 9 and sought a temporary injunction against the law. The DOJ argued during a hearing earlier this month that the law violates the U.S. Constitution.
Justice Department attorney Brian Netter called the law an “unprecedented scheme of vigilante justice.”
The legal debate over the law focuses on a provision which allows any individual to sue anyone who knowingly performs or aids an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, removing the responsibility of enforcement from the state’s executive branch and placing it into the hands of citizens. Plaintiffs can earn up to $10,000 in damages through litigation.
The Supreme Court declined to block the law last month in a 5-4 decision. However, it did not rule on whether the law or its enforcement mechanism are constitutional.