US Appeals Court Reinstates Restrictive Texas Abortion Ban Two Days after it Was Halted

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee approved one of the nation's strictest abortion laws in July of last year, prohibiting abortion once a fetal heartbeat is found at about six weeks, which is typically before a woman learns she is pregnant.
Image credit: EPA

In a whiplash decision, a U.S. appeals court temporarily reinstated Texas’s restrictive abortion law, only two days after a federal judge suspended the sweeping law. 

The legal battle continues over the extremely controversial court case, which experts say is a direct attack on not only the Supreme Court landmark precedence set by Roe v Wade but the constitution as a whole. 

The Texan law bars all abortions at around the six-week mark into pregnancy — before most people know that they are pregnant. The law leaves no exceptions for incest or rape. It gives anyone the right to sue someone involved with providing or facilitating abortion. And if they are successful in their case against that individual, they can collect a minimum of $10,000 —  practically making private citizens bounty hunters against abortions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is conservative-leaning, was the intermediate appeals court that the Texas Attorney General’s Office submitted their request to. The court has now temporarily suspended the federal judge’s temporary block of the ban. 

Only two days prior to this, a lower court had temporarily blocked the law, labeling it “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion. District Judge Robert Pitman granted the request of the Justice Department to prevent enforcement of the law while its legality is being challenged in court. 

Texas officials immediately appealed against the ruling, resulting in the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit overturning the pause. 

The case will likely end up before the US Supreme Court. It won’t be the first time the case has passed along the top court’s desk – in September, it declined to hear an emergency case filed in a last-minute effort to prevent the ban from being instated. The lack of action by the Supreme Court allowed for the law to take effect and has led to an intense legal struggle from both sides over it. 

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