Fed Appeals Court Upholds Decision To Allow Texas To Continue To Enforce Heartbeat Abortion Law

Source: Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP, File

On Thursday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld its decision to allow Texas to continue to enforce S.B. 8, the newly-enacted law that outlaws abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The Court’s decision reaffirmed their order last week, which reversed U.S. District Judge Rob Pitman’s ruling issuing an injunction on the law. Pitman’s ruling came at the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ) as they gear up to sue Texas over the constitutionality of S.B. 8.

In addition to outlawing abortions at roughly six weeks gestation, S.B. 8 makes no exceptions for rape or incest. However, the DOJ’s lawsuit primarily targets a provision in the law that encourages private citizens to pursue legal action against individuals who provide an illegal abortion or “aid or abet” a person seeking an illegal abortion. Those who successfully bring lawsuits under S.B. 8 can receive up to $10,000.

When Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the lawsuit last month, he described S.B. 8 as “in open defiance” of the Constitution and said it encourages people to act as bounty hunters.

The Fifth Circuit’s decision Thursday could push the law closer to returning to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Previously, on Sept. 1, the day S.B. 8 took effect, SCOTUS voted 5-4 to uphold the law after abortion providers and advocacy groups submitted a last-minute request urging the Court to block the law.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union slammed the Fifth Circuit’s decision to uphold their ruling to allow Texas to continue to enforce S.B.8, saying they “ignore the Constitution” and that they hope the DOJ appeals to SCOTUS.

“It’s outrageous but unsurprising that the Fifth Circuit has once again denied Texans their fundamental reproductive rights. Time and again, the Fifth Circuit has ignored the Constitution by allowing numerous abortion restrictions to take effect, including SB 8 today and last year when Texas used the pandemic as an excuse to ban abortion,” said Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “The district court did the right thing in blocking the ban. 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 and we hope the Supreme Court will put an end to harms this law is causing.”

Author : Madeline Leesman

Source : Town Hall : Federal Appeals Court Upholds Decision to Allow Texas to Continue to Enforce ‘Heartbeat’ Abortion Law