A Texas law that bans nearly all abortions in the state is on hold today (Oct. 7) after a federal judge on Oct. 6 granted the Justice Department’s request to halt its enforcement.
In his 113-page ruling, Federal District Court Judge Robert L. Pittman criticized the law, known as Senate Bill 8, which was drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court.
Chelsea Sobolik, director of policy for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, called the ruling “extremely disappointing” but said the fight is not over.
“We will never stop protecting life and working towards a day when abortion is unthinkable and unnecessary,” Sobolik tweeted.
Provisions of the law
The decision to pause enforcement of the law might not mean abortions will automatically resume in Texas, since the law would allow clinics to be sued retroactively for any abortions they provide while the law makes its way through the judicial system.
Texas said it would appeal Pittman’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one of the most conservative in the country. A ruling could come within a few days.
The Texas decision comes in the first week of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, which began Oct. 4. The court is scheduled to hear arguments Dec. 1 in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court’s major decisions over the last half-century that legalized abortion in the U.S.
Lower courts blocked Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, but the Supreme Court has agreed to review those rulings. Abortions would be banned in a dozen states and severely restricted in about a dozen others if the justices were to overrule their earlier abortion decisions.
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