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US Appeals Court Lets Texas Temporarily Resume Abortion Law

A federal appeals courts has allowed Texas to temporarily resume banning most abortions, just one day after clinics across the state began rushing to serve patients again.

A Pro Choice Rally In the United States (Representational Image) | Twitter

Austin:  A federal appeals courts has allowed Texas to temporarily resume banning most abortions, just one day after clinics across the state began rushing to serve patients again for the first time since early September.

Abortion providers in Texas had been bracing for the 5th US Court of Appeals to act quickly, even as they booked new appointments and reopened their doors during a brief reprieve from the law known as Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions once cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks.

On Wednesday, US District Judge Robert Pitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama, issued an order suspending the Texas law that he called an “offensive deprivation” of the constitutional right to an abortion. It came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration, which warned that other GOP-controlled states could rush to adopt similar measures.

But the New Orleans-based appeals court quickly granted Texas’ request to set aside Pitman’s order for now while the case is reviewed. It ordered the Justice Department to respond by Tuesday. 

Texas had roughly two dozen abortion clinics before the law took effect Sept. 1, and not all Texas abortion providers resumed services while it was on hold. Many physicians had feared a swift reversal from the appeals court that risked putting them back in legal jeopardy.

The new law threatens Texas abortion providers with lawsuits from private citizens, who are entitled to collect at least USD 10,000 in damages if successful. That novel approach is the reason why courts had not blocked the law prior to Pitman’s ruling, since the state plays no role in enforcing the restrictions. 

Texas on Friday asked a federal appeals court to swiftly reinstate the most restrictive abortion law in the US, which until this week had banned most abortions in the state since early September.

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