Just a week after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking Texas’ near-total abortion ban, a federal appeals court has allowed the state to continue banning most abortions.
As the Associated Press reports, a three-judge panel at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to keep the restrictive abortion laws in place. The decision was made on Thursday, which means abortions are illegal once cardiac activity is detected. Typically, such activity is detected when someone is six weeks pregnant, meaning a good majority of individuals won’t be aware that they’re pregnant within that timeframe.
The law initially came into effect in September, and there’s been a lot of back-and-forth on the issue ever since. The Republican-backed legislation allows citizens to sue anyone who performed or abetted an abortion within Texas, including doctors, counselors, or someone who knowingly drove a patient to an abortion clinic. Last week, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued a temporary restraining order blocking Texas from enforcing the law.
Since the law came into effect, some Texas residents have been forced to drive hours to seek out abortion clinics in nearby states.
“We hope the Department of Justice urgently appeals this order to the Supreme Court to restore Texans’ ability to obtain abortion care after six weeks in pregnancy," said deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Brigitte Amiri.
In response to Thursday’s news, the Texas Attorney General’s Office called the appeals court’s decision a “testament that we are on the right side of the law and life.” In December, the Supreme Court is expected to hear Mississippi’s proposal to overturn the right to an abortion.
Anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life has since set up a tip line to incentivize people to report allegations against abortion providers, although the group has so far failed to file any lawsuits. Following the news on Thursday, the group’s spokesperson Kimberlyn Schwartz said she expects the case will go to the Supreme Court soon, but she remains “confident Texas will ultimately defeat these attacks on our life-saving efforts.”