Two days after a federal judge blocked a pro-life “heartbeat” law limiting abortions in Texas, a federal appeals court reinstated it.
The law bans doctors from performing abortions if the heartbeat of the unborn child can be detected. Similar bills have been proposed in other states and have fallen by the wayside amid legal challenges.
But Texas put a new wrinkle into its law. Instead of the state playing the role of enforcer, private citizens are allowed to sue anyone who violates the law and collect $10,000 if they win.
The law had been suspended by a temporary restraining order by District Judge Robert Pitman on Wednesday, but a panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the law Friday, according to Fox News.
Texas to temporarily resume abortion ban: Federal appeals court
I can’t grasp how many ppl are fighting to murder innocent babies.
What about a babies right to life ⁉️
— Wιʅʅ Nσƚ Cσɱρʅყ 𝙖𝙠𝙖 𝘾𝙟 (@ShotsRangOut) October 9, 2021
“This is an answered prayer,” said Kimberlyn Schwartz, a spokeswoman for Texas Right to Life, according to The New York Times. “We are confident Texas will continue to defeat these attacks on our lifesaving efforts.”
“Great news tonight, The Fifth Circuit has granted an administrative stay on #SB8. I will fight federal overreach at every turn,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wrote in a Twitter post.
BREAKING: Texas ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion law reinstated by appeals court ruling https://t.co/JI9yiDWBEn
— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) October 9, 2021
Paxton told Fox on Friday that he expected the court to act as it did because the law “was passed by the elected representatives of the state of Texas.”
Do you think Texas will win if this law gets to the Supreme Court?
The New York Times report noted that the panel’s unanimous order was likely a harbinger of success for Texas with the full 5th Circuit court.
“While the ruling by the three-judge panel is only temporary, the Fifth Circuit is among the most conservative in the country and appeared likely to eventually side with Texas,” the newspaper’s Houston bureau chief J. David Goodman wrote.
“Legal experts said that the decision on Friday evening sent a strong signal that the appeals court would not agree with the decision by Judge Pitman, who was appointed by President Barack Obama.”
The panel gave the Justice Department until Tuesday to respond to the appeal from Texas, but allowed the law to remain in effect while the case is heard.
The judges making the ruling were Carl Stewart, a Bill Clinton appointee; Catharina Haynes, a George W. Bush appointee; and James Ho, a Donald Trump appointee, according to Politico.
In the ruling since superseded by the appeals court, Pitman wrote that “A person’s right under the Constitution to choose to obtain an abortion prior to fetal viability is well established.”
He called the enforcement mechanism developed by Texas lawmakers “an unprecedented and transparent statutory scheme.”
“Rather than subjecting its law to judicial review under the Constitution, the State deliberately circumvented the traditional process. It drafted the law with the intent to preclude review by federal courts that have the obligation to safeguard the very rights the statute likely violates,” he wrote.