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Proponents of abortion rights have secured a major legal win.
According to Reuters, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman issued a temporary restraining order that blocks Texas from enforcing its near-total abortion ban. The federal judge announced the ruling on Wednesday, about a month after the controversial law went into effect.
The Republican-backed legislation prohibits abortions in the state after six weeks of pregnancy, a time when most people are unaware they are pregnant. The law also allows citizens to sue anyone who either performed or abetted an abortion within Texas, including doctors, counselors, or even an individual who knowingly drove a patient to a clinic to receive the procedure.
“This Court will not sanction one more day of this offensive deprivation of such an important right,” Pitman, a 2014 Barack Obama nominee, said in the ruling.
It’s unknown how long the judge’s ruling will last, as the Texas attorney general’s office indicated they would challenge such action in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeals court, which is said to be one of the most conservative in the country, has already rejected requests to block the Texas abortion ban. The decision prompted abortion rights activists to turn to the U.S.’s highest court; however, SCOTUS ultimately denied the emergency request and allowed the law to go into effect.
On Sept. 9, the Department of Justice sued Texas over Senate Bill 8, aka the “Heartbeat Bill.” The DOJ said the legislation violated the U.S. Constitution, which protects a person’s rights to an abortion.
“The act is clearly unconstitutional under long-standing Supreme Court precedent,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said when announcing the lawsuit. “The statute deputizes all private citizens, without any showing of personal connection or injury, to serve as bounty hunters authorized to recover at least $10,000 per claim from individuals who facilitate a woman’s exercise of her constitutional rights. The obvious and expressly acknowledged intention of this statutory scheme is to prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights by thwarting judicial review.”